The search for a house with a click of a mouse- “window shopping” for today’s home buyer
The other day, I was having lunch with a colleague who’s in the market to buy his first house. He’s proudly single, great career, and is ready to move from his downtown high rise into a house where he can host many Sunday barbecues, and maybe even adopt a pup. We were talking about his quest to find his “man cave” over the course of the last few months he’s been looking, and the different websites and apps he regularly frequents to see what’s on the market in our Reno/Tahoe area. He laughed when I told him to think of it as online dating (okay…“Tindering”- he’s not quite on the Match.com train…not just yet, anyways).
When you think about it, they both represent similar concepts. You swipe or keep scrolling in hopes of finding something that peeks your interest, right? Whether it’s a mental checklist, or list of requirements on a legal pad in front of you, you have a pretty solid idea of what you are looking for. The reality is, that two of the biggest decisions you make in your life can both be aided and persuaded by some simple online searches and platforms- buying a house, and finding a spouse.
Location, age, appearance, work that may need to be done (sorry, couldn’t resist that one)- all of this information you can find out about a potential house or significant other while searching online. Of course, I could keep going with the list…but let’s keep it light.
Fact is, is that more and more people are taking to search engines and social media when looking for just about anything these days. I personally use Google for everything before making a decision involving money, and my time. Both are equally valuable to me, and I absolutely hate wasting my time spinning wheels- who does?
In the world of real estate, the many websites and platforms dedicated to the industry, and the convenience it presents for potential buyers, make turning to the Internet a pretty obvious choice. In fact, 80% of all home buyers are searching online*– that shouldn’t be a shocking statistic. I rarely hear friends/clients say it was love at first sight from seeing an ad in the newspaper, or driving down streets looking for “For Sale” signs during their preliminary searches. Bottom line- online searches (especially for the millennial market) pretty much blow the roof off of everything else – no pun intended.
Buying a house is an exciting time, and being prepared ahead of time will make the experience that much better. So, before embarking on an online house hunting adventure, here are three tips to help guide your way in your first steps to home ownership!
#1- Avoid breaking your bank, and your heart.
There’s nothing more upsetting than coming across a home and falling in love with it, only to realize that you simply cannot afford it. Save yourself the trouble, and the heartbreak, and consult with a mortgage lender before you decide to get your search on. When you’re armed with the knowledge of what you can afford, it focuses your search and allows you to make a move when you find a home you love. Even if you’re sitting on a mound of cash (lucky you if so), knowing your finances beforehand will help you with potential negotiations, renovations, and other costs associated with the house regardless of its price tag.
#2- Pictures say 1,000 words…or do they?
While searching online can be quite beneficial and save time and headaches, there come some downsides along with it. 83% of all home buyers want to see pictures of the property online*, but they should also remember that they are, in fact, just pictures. Just like one can get “Catfished” in the online quest for love, one can just as easily get fooled into the different properties one comes across online as well. Pictures are enticing, but can also lead to disappointment, and sometimes even an array of unfortunate scammers. On the other side of the coin, I also find that sometimes the quality of photos on listings don’t do the given properties any justice (a topic I will be covering in a future post). Using trusted sites like Realtlor.com, Homes.com and Zillow.com are recommended for the most accurate and current details of homes showcased online- leave Craigslist.org for concert tickets and entertaining personal ads.
#3- Write it down!
A bit of advice from home buyers and real estate professionals- take plenty of notes on what you come across in your online searches. I personally live off of pros and cons lists for many different things- they are great to really hone in on what you like, dislike, and can and can’t live without. When the time comes to really go for “the one”, hand those notes over to your entrusted real estate agent who will know you’re a serious buyer who knows what they want- they will be thankful you did your homework, and you’ll be thankful you did too.