Welcome to House Hunting with Direct Energy! In this series, we’ll walk you through the fundamentals of shopping for a house, while also sharing a few crucial insider tips that will increase your knowledge and decrease your stress. We want your home-buying experience a positive one!
How Do I Search for Homes on Sale?
Gone are the days of combing the newspaper want ads as you look for a home to purchase. We live in a time where everything can now be accessed online from the convenience of your smartphone or tablet. Starting with Craigslist and Facebook and then into sites like Zillow and Trulia, people don’t even have to depend on a realtor anymore! But even with all this access to information and data, the process of searching for homes on sale can still be confusing and frustrating, so we want to help you learn how to search with ease and efficiency.
1) Start with Real Estate Websites
You have so many options in this arena, but two in particular have proven to most helpful: Zillow and Homesnap. They both offer millions of residential listings registered on MLS (multiple listing service) to their users for free. Users can search for homes to purchase, to rent, or foreclosures. Real estate websites like these offer a wide variety of search criteria such as price point, neighborhood, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and more so you can easily filter out the homes that aren’t right for you.
Both sites can track your search criteria to set up daily notifications of any new listings that hit the market matching what you want in a home. They also can provide up-to-date reports on current home values and trends. And because you’re always on the go, download the app for the site(s) you like most!
2) Talk to People You Trust
Word-of-mouth can be one of the easiest ways to find a home. If you can find a home before it hits the MLS, it eliminates any competition from other buyers. Ask friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for any potential homes going up for sale. Depending on the level of your need, I’ve even seen people go door-to-door handing out “House Wanted” notes as part of their house hunting process.
3) Check Facebook
While it’s typically a website used for posting pictures and updates, Facebook is also becoming a more popular avenue to buy and sell houses. It provides sellers with a huge forum to market their home, and it provides a large forum for buyers to advertise they’re looking to purchase a home as well.
4) Visit “For Sale By Owner”
For Sale By Owner is an online resource for people selling their home on their own without employing a realtor. This means that the homes posted on this website are not found on real estate sites using MLS (though Zillow does list FSBO properties now). By removing a real estate agent from the equation, the seller doesn’t have to pay realtor fees, which can be between 3-6% of the total sale price.
5) Go Old-School with a Realtor
For those who are less technologically savvy or don’t have the time, desire, or patience for house hunting, then ditch the Internet and go with a realtor. Realtors have inside access to every MLS listing, including the stuff you might not see on your average real estate website. They can search through the thousands of homes in your desired area with your specific search criteria to find the best homes for you. In addition, most realtors typically work with a group of other realtors, which means they can be notified about homes coming on the market before they hit the public websites giving you a better chance of purchasing a home.
Do you have any tips for the best ways to search for a home to buy? Share with us in the comments!
In the next installment of House Hunting with Direct Energy, we’ll research some key buying trends in the current housing market.