Remember These 3 Critical House Hunting Tips

Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your search, but it should not be your primary source. The fact is that more than half the listings published through public real estate search engines are long expired or already sold.

To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind.

Get Accurate Information

When you start your search, the best and most accurate listings come directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) where real estate agents actively post their most current homes for sale.

Many online resources such as Zillow, Homes.com, Realtor.com allow old listings to linger, update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter.

Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. Working with Realtors to help you navigate the process of house hunting has many benefits. Not the least of which is getting accurate listings right off the MLS customized for you. My real estate website KWPropertyFinder.com lets you set your own property searches and receive the most up-to-date active listings available in Southeast Michigan. Most Realtors have similar sites that feed off the MLS. These are far more accurate than public search engine sites for real estate.

My real estate website KWPropertyFinder.com lets you set your own property searches and receive the most up-to-date active listings available in Southeast Michigan. Most Realtors have similar sites that feed off the MLS. These are far more accurate than public search engine sites for real estate.

Typically, my buying clients will find a listing through one of those public sites and ask me for more information or request to go see it. Fifty percent of the time, that listing is long expired or sold. I have listings on those same sites and I can tell you that they do not require agents nor will they chase them up to keep their listings current.

By contrast, the Multiple Listing System is a nationwide system where all Realtors input their listings. It is highly regulated and Realtors are required to keep their listings current. In addition, Realtors must pay yearly membership fees to use the MLS and abide by their rules. The last thing a Realtor wants is to be kicked off the MLS for repeat violations. This would basically kill their business.

Therefore, you can save yourself a great deal of time online by making sure you’re receiving accurate listings as they come up. The only way to obtain this information is through a licensed Realtor and MLS member.

As an MLS member, I always set up search filters matching what each of my clients are looking for in terms of locations, home styles, price ranges and more. I can also set it to notify my clients instantly, daily or only certain days/times of the week according to their preferences.

Photos Can Be Misleading

Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as wide angle lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop.

More times than not, home shoppers place far too much weight on online photos when deciding which properties to go see. A high percentage of those photos will not provide you with an accurate assessment of room sizes. There are just too many amateur photographers out there.

The most common and obvious mistake I see is taking a photo when facing a window. This has the effect of making the room look very dark. Why in the world would anyone upload such a pic when trying to sell a house?! I just don’t understand that.

See It To Believe It

If a property seems to fit your price range and basic needs, go see it in person. Many buyers make the mistake of passing up a listed property based solely on the photos.

There are still plenty of Realtors out there who are content to upload cellphone photos rather than paying for a professional photographer. You could be passing up on a great place if the online photos don’t do it justice.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encouraged home buyers to go look at a property they originally passed up just to have them thank me afterward. Their initial expectations turned out to be quite different when we walk in the door.

Home buyers road map

Questions, Comments & More

Hopefully, I’ve given you some good advice here to keep in mind. Feel free to share your own experiences and/or ask questions.

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4 Responses

  1. Harry says:

    Thanks a lot for those house-hunting tips… I have actually changed a couple of realtors until now because they seemed not to know what they were doing.

    When I see a property which fits my price range and seems to cover my needs I always go and see it in person. I have realized that most of the time, pictures lie, at least when it comes to houses!

  2. My Daily Pointers says:

    A few years back, I was in the market to purchase a condo and just as you said, the photos were so misleading.  There was one place I thought looked phenomenal in the photos but when I got there, the rooms were small and dingy.  On the other hand, the place I ended up purchasing did not look that wonderful in the photos.  When I walked up the stairs, I knew immediately it would be my new home!

  3. Jordan Smith says:

    This post indeed will help a lot of people; Experiencing the house hunting process can be easy and exciting, as long as one go into it with research on articles like this and preparation. Knowing what to expect, as well as how to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls, can make it seem like you were a house hunting expert all along. I should share this post right away.

    Regards!

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