When starting the process of buying a new home, the first thing many people do is check for listings online. While this is a good place to start, it is not the only way to learn about homes for sale. Browsing online listings gives you a good idea of the market values in your area. Here are some tips for your online home search to make it more efficient and focused.
Get Pre-Approved to Determine Your Budget
Narrow down home prices by setting a high and low price on your search. To get an accurate idea of your budget, get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. While you’ll find out how much a bank will loan you to buy a home, there are other considerations when figuring out your budget. Factor in expenses like car payments and childcare and determine a comfortable price range. This range may be less than the full amount the bank has approved to finance.
What Size Home are You Looking For?
Many homebuyers know the approximate size of home they are looking for, whether in square feet or number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You can narrow down your online search in multiple ways. Enter your specifications for size to eliminate homes that are too large or small for your preferences.
Non-Negotiable Features in an Online Home Search
If there are certain features that are important to you in your new home, include them in your search filter. Only do this if you are not interested in looking at any home that does not have the specific feature. Some features can be added after you have purchased the home, like a swimming pool. Other features, like a waterfront location or a full basement, can’t be added or changed.
Location is an Important Factor
The location of a property is one of the determining factors in its value, sometimes overriding its size and condition. If you have preferences on your new home’s location, like a particular neighborhood, town, zip code, or even custom area, specify this in your online home search. Some websites allow you to draw a custom border on the map around your preferred area with the cursor.
Do More Than an Online Home Search
While looking online at home listings is a great place to start with your home search, you’ll need to do more. Hire professionals to help you with the home buying process, like a real estate agent and home inspector. A real estate agent will help you find the right house and a home inspector will give you a report on the condition of the property before closing.