Lots of real estate markets across the country are seeing tight inventory on homes for sale as well as low market times. This really has home buyers scrambling to find the homes immediately so they can get an offer in on the one they like. So what is the best way to search for homes?
After may years of working with home buyers as a buyer’s agent I have seen home buyers unknowingly waste waste a lot of time and get aggravated with their home search. I am going to lay out a few tip to become a Power Searcher when looking for homes for sale!
6 Tips To Become A Power Searcher for Your Next Home Purchase!!
1-Pick Your Home Search Tool Wisely
You have a million options on the internet to search for homes on the internet. But not all home searches are created equal! and may not be the best way for you to search homes for sale. You are going to be surprised by my next statement. Do not use Zillow or Trulia or any other national aggregate to do your home search.
What?!! Yep… that is what I said. My last listing to hit the market took 24 hours to show up on Zillow and 63 hours to show up on Trulia. If you were relying on Trulia or Zillow to find your new home, you lost. We were in negotiations on our first offer with in 12 hours (before Zillow posted the listing) of the listing going live There were 5 showings with in 10 hours of the listing going live in the Multiple Listing Service!! The home was under agreement by the end of the second day (before Trulia posted the listing). How disappointing to the buyers relying on Zillow or Trulia. They never had the opportunity!
So where do I look for homes for sale? Go to a local real estate agents website and create an account so you can get all of the property info. My Massachusetts Home Search updates every 15-20 minutes. This last listing was up and live on my site in less than 15 minutes after the MLS.
The difference is a local real estate agent’s home search will tie directly into the local Multiple Listing Service. The only purpose is to be a tool that real estate agents pay for, that can aid home buyers in their home search. The big national aggregates like Zillow and Trulia can pull their data from different sources and they are designed to make money they have a totally different agenda.
2- Stop Jumping Around From Site to Site
Real Estate Agents share their listings with each other. All of our home searches have the same data pulled from the same source. The likeliness of you finding that one listing that no one knows about is slim to none. Yes occasionally an agent will have a “pocket listing” that is not shared in the Multiple Listing Service but it is so these days…. at least in my little area of the world.
In today world many sites are posting sold and under agreement listing that aren’t available. Unfortunately that is very confusing for buyers. To gather a list of homes that aren’t available is a waste of your time.
Learn to use the site you decide on utilizing and understand the subtleties. Some of these tools are really powerful. Mine is map based with a ton of criteria to slice and dice. You can do a radius search as well as draw a poylgon around a certain group of towns or neighborhoods. You can also search under agreement and sold listings but you can turn of that criteria as well. I also have a companion mobile device home search as well, that is optimized for mobile phones and tablets. It is free to use and you can just bookmark the site.
Jumping from site to site will just create chaos and create frustration. Try out a few but learn to use the one you like best and stick with it.
3- Don’ Be Too Selective on Criteria
When inventory is tight and properties are moving quickly it is important to not make your criteria to stringent.
For example I have buyers tell me they only want properties with one acre of land which in many towns north of Boston can be quite restrictive. Or, they want 2 full baths when maybe they can find something with 1.5 baths that would work quite well. Whatever your criteria is it may be a good idea to expand it a little to open up options for yourself.
Also be open to alternate towns with similar inventory and pricing, if inventory is low in your target towns.
Have your priorities, wants and needs but evaluate them often and be willing to readjust based upon what you are experiencing in the market place.
4- Be Realistic and Focus on Where Your Reality Lies
Often home buyers come to me with a budget and a list of towns that are probably not realistic unless your willing to accept a clearly deficient house. They chase the rare house that is $250,000 in a community where the median house price is almost 700k to find the house is pretty much a tear down and cannot be financed… or has a serious quirk or horrible location. Then they are shocked when they arrive that the home is less than ideal for them.
What happens is some buyers get so side tracked with trying to find their “perceived reality” where it can’t be found they miss good homes in good communities.
The less “crap” you have to sort thru the easier it is to focus on the good stuff.
A quick story. I had a couple who wanted new construction for about $500,000. Around me there are only a few communities where that is obtainable.. They spent 6 months trying to find it and they were defeated when they came to me. I was able to show them in the 10 highly desirable, expensive towns they wanted in the past year there was only one new construction that fell anywhere near their price range (and it was still closer to 600K). And the only reason it did was the house was on undesirable lot in an undesirable location.
What they wanted did not exist but they wasted time looking for it. Meanwhile, interest rates rose and house prices rose limiting their buying power by $20 to 30k
A good agent will help you work on where your reality lies and help you focus on your goals quickly. Some home buyers flounder forever, frustrated they can’t find what they want. Looking at a past history of what has sold gives you an indication of what may lay ahead for you.
5- Get Set Up On Email Alerts
The typical life cycle of a home buyer is to jump on the computer and looking for homes. In the beginning you are looking at old inventory that is left over. They are probably overpriced or less desirable properties. They have sat on the market unsold with no buyers. You may find your next home there but probably not.
Quickly you will have sorted thru that old inventory and visited the ones you thought you might like. Now you are just waiting for the next new home to come on the market.
Setting up daily email alerts will highlight the properties new to the market in the past 24 hours, properties that may have comeback on the market or have had a price change that drops into your budget. Most likely your email is going to hold the key to your next house.
Don’t be afraid to set up multiple alerts. You can set up one alert for entire towns you are interested in then set up an alert where you may only be interested in a certain section of one town.
This can be a huge time saver during your home search.
6- Understand Current Real Estate Conditions
There are red hot seller market, neutral markets, buyers markets, etc…. The conditions of the current real estate market will set your pace.
If you are in a seller’s market you need to be diligent and find the new houses immediately. A day or two can mean a lost property. Currently I have been working with a client searching for a home in Tewksbury MA and the surrounding area. They see a property and a day or two later when they decide they are interested and want a second showing it is gone.
Waiting to see a house two weeks after it has hot the market is not the best way to search for homes. The good homes will be gone in the first 4-10 days
Conversely if you are in a buyers market a day or two may not be as critical because market times can be a lot longer.
If you are serious about buying a home, you need to be diligent. View your emails everyday and have discussions with your agent frequently. Once you get comfortable with an agent and they have an understanding of what you are looking for, they can help you sort thru properties.
Final Thoughts The Best Way To Search for Homes
Having a little bit of understanding will help you to find the best way to search for homes. You probably did not realize the lag time that Trulia or Zillow has in delivering properties to the public. Also, understanding where the current market lies will certainly set the pace.
There are very powerful home searches out there from your local real estate agent. Like any tool if you take the time to familiarize yourself with it, you will get far better results.
Keep your focus and be diligent. A good buyer’s agent will provide you with the tools, educate you on the current market conditions and help you set up realistic expectations.
Happy House Hunting!!
Other Home Buying Resources:
- Realtor.com 5 Tips for Organizing Your House Hunt
- Bill Gassett Tips for First Time Home Buyers
- Anita Clark Tips for Millennial Home Buyers
- David O’Doherty Top Tips Buyers Should Consider When Looking at Homes
- Luke Skar- First Time Home Buying Guide
Learn the best way to search for homes with, Don’t Pull Your Hair Out Searching for Homes- 6 Tips to Become a Power Searcher!! Provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. Kevin is happy to answer any of your questions regarding the sale or buying of a home and can be reached at 978-360-0422 at anytime.
Real Estate Services in the following areas: Northeast Massachusetts, Merrimack Valley, North Shore and Metrowest. Including the following communities and the surrounding area- Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Dracut, Groveland, Haverhill, Lowell, Melrose, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Wakefield, Wilmington, Westford