10 Things You Need to Know About Searching for Homes Online

Updated: Apr. 09, 2024

According to the 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors, 88 percent of home buyers said websites were there most useful source of information and half of them purchased their home after viewing it online.

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Research the Agent Listing the House

It’s important to take a look at the real estate agent listing the home because they could be a newer agent. It’s a good idea to check references if possible, but find out how the sellers found their real estate agent. Take note of online reviews, particularly how many they have more so than negative reviews since those should be taken with a grain of salt.

Find out what other houses they have listed because their experience in a certain price range of homes will make a difference if the home you’re looking at is outside of their typical range.

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Check Other Info Online

Walk scores get a lot of attention these days as people want to be able to walk to retail spaces and other spaces near their home so be sure to check those numbers out at Walk Score. Most online real estate sites already post school ratings for nearby schools and schools do matter when you’re buying a house whether you’ve got children or don’t. Check out our home buying guide so you don’t miss something.

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Use a Website That Features Houses from the MLS

What’s the MLS? It’s the multiple listing service that shows available houses. Websites that use the MLS will have the most up-to-date information on houses and will be the most reliable.

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Note How Long the Home Has Been on the Market

A house that’s been on the market for a long time tends to turn home buyers away because they begin to wonder what’s wrong with the house. But you should note the location of the home. A home in a smaller town could stay on the market longer than one in a more populated area. These tricks can help make a home sell faster.

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Take a Look at Price Changes With the House

Online real estate sites Trulia and Realtor.com are great because they use information from the MLS and that information is always accurate and up-to-date. Often those websites will note a change in the price of a home and even provide a history of the house’s price. Learn more about what goes into pricing a house.

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Take a Look at the Foreclosures in the Area

Recent foreclosures can have an effect on the price of a home that you’re looking at since appraisers look at comparables. Keep an eye on those homes in the area that are for sale and if they go into foreclosure because if you buy the house before the others go into foreclosure you could end up paying more for your house. Check out these ways to make your home appear more attractive on the market.

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Online Viewing is a Great Tool But a Real Estate Agent is Still Great

Real estate agents should help you understand market conditions and the area you’re looking at buying into. Real estate agents can help later on with negotiating price and fixes that crop up after a home inspection. These are 10 house hunting and home buying mistakes you can easily avoid. 

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Check Out the Expected Property Taxes

You’ll have to factor in the property taxes into your house payment, along with any homeowners association fees. Also, it’s important to know if there will be any construction plans around the house because those could raise your taxes. These are 10 things every homeowner should know about property taxes.

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Look at Neighboring Homes and What They’ve Sold At

Look for home sales in the past three months for comparable. Appraisers only look at comparable homes sold in the last three months. You can get a better idea of what the price of a home should be.

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If You’re Selling: Audit Your Agent’s Online Marketing

More than 90 percent of homebuyers start their house hunt online, and they will never even get in the car to come see your home if the online listings aren’t compelling. In real estate, compelling means pictures! A study by Trulia.com shows that listings with more than six pictures are twice as likely to be viewed by buyers as listings that had fewer than six pictures. Don’t miss these other 22 secrets real estate agents won’t tell you.

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If You’re Selling: Don’t Trust Realty Websites To Price Your Home

For an estimate of property values in certain states, check zillow.com, but don’t lock on to that number. Desktop appraisal systems assess how nearby homes with similar square footage have sold; they don’t consider home interior. See what really goes into a home appraisal.