Once you decide you’d like to buy a home and move, the first place you turn to is the internet. You may start browsing available homes online before hiring a real estate agent, getting pre-approved for a mortgage, or listing your current home for sale. Here are some tips and tricks to level up your online home search.
Set the Boundaries for Areas Where You Want to Live
One of the most popular real estate websites, Zillow, has a feature that lets you define your area beyond just searching in a town, city, zip code, or county. You can physically draw a boundary with the mouse around the neighborhoods you like. If you like a certain neighborhood except for one particular street, you can exclude that area from the boundaries. This is a great tool, especially if you are familiar with the city where you’re searching and have clear preferences about location.
Specify What Type of Home You Want in Your Online Home Search
You probably have a good idea of what type of home will best meet your needs. If you have big dogs, a condo in a high-rise building may not be the best type of home for you. If your adult children have left home, you may be looking to downsize from a house to a smaller townhouse. Filter out the types of homes that don’t suit your lifestyle. If you know you aren’t interested in a manufactured home or a plot of land to build a house on, uncheck those boxes.
Set an Upper-Limit for Price
Looking at listings for houses you can’t afford is discouraging when you are serious about buying a house. Find out what you are pre-approved for and then consider what you can actually afford. Your mortgage payment shouldn’t exceed one-third of your income after taxes. Put aside 1-3% of the home’s value for repairs and maintenance. Once you have a budget for what you can spend on the home, set the price range accordingly for your online home search.
Online Home Search with 3D Tours
If you are moving to a desirable area with a hot real estate market, the best deals will be gone in a day. You may need to act quickly and place an offer before touring the home in-person, especially if you are moving to another state. 3D tours are invaluable in this situation. Every room has a 360-degree image to give you a virtual tour of the home. If you are moving far away, set an alert to notify you of homes with 3D tours.