You’ve decided to make the leap and move. Excitement. Anticipation. A little anxiety. You’re probably feeling a mix of all these emotions, especially as you navigate various online home search sites out there.
But with so many factors at play it can seem overwhelming. So where do you start? Here are five tips:
Talk to an agent – If you’re serious about buying in the next few months, your first step is to enlist the help of a local RE/MAX agent to assist you in your search. A good agent can help you identify exactly what you want in a property and identify neighborhoods that would fit your lifestyle – and budget – best. Also, your agent can set you up to receive property alerts via email or text when a home matching your criteria comes on the market, meaning you don’t have to stay glued to a computer to find the latest property matches!
Do your homework – Before searching for a home, familiarize yourself with the buying process. On remax.com, you’ll find an in-depth homebuying guide that will walk you through the process, from getting pre-approved for a loan and selecting an agent, to making an offer and getting to closing. In other words, research the process so you know what to expect, then dive into your online home search. Remax.com is a great place to start.
Use the “Advanced Search” – The best way to narrow search results down is using the “Advanced Search” feature on remax.com. Select a specific price range, zip code(s), amenities, property types, and other criteria that will weed out homes you’re not interested in. If you don’t see as many listings as you had hoped to find, your parameters might be too restrictive; you might need to remove a few to find more properties. You can be as specific – or as general – as you want to be using this functionality. Also, don’t forget the “Hide” feature on remax.com, which is a great tool that allows you to hide listings that come up in your search results that you’re not interested in; this reduces some of site clutter so you can focus only on the front-runners.
Look for homes with photos and/or virtual tours – Photos can help you narrow down your choices, particularly if you realize the layout of a home doesn’t work for you, or the exterior needs a lot of work. Like the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words,” so take time and care to look at all photos and virtual tours. If a property doesn’t have a single photo, that could be a red flag that it’s not in show-ready condition.
Research the surrounding area – Once you’ve found some homes that interest you enough to look at in person, learn more about the neighborhoods and surrounding areas so there are no surprises. For example, if walkability is really important to you, visit WalkScore.com, which rates an address between 0 and 100 based on walkability. GreatSchools.org allows you to research nearby schools based on test scores and parent/student ratings. If you find homes online that look amazing and the price is right, but the schools won’t cut it for your little ones, you’ll want to look elsewhere.