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THE BEST Way to Search for a Home to Buy

As a Massachusetts Realtor, I marvel at how home buyers jump from one site to another to another to find their perfect new home driving themselves crazy thinking that they will find a hidden home that is not on any the other sites….. Does it happen? Occasionally, but pretty rare.

Home Search Secret #1- Most real estate sites by real estate brokers/agents are being fed new listings from exactly the same source. The MLS or multiple listing service for which the agent/broker  is member.  The only difference may be in how the search criteria is set up or how the information gets delivered.  The homes on each site will be exactly the same!!

Home Search Secret #2- Big national sites that are not real estate companies like Trulia, Zillow, Homefinder, Homegain, RealBird and 100’s of more…… are not always fed by the local multiple listing services.  They are fed by third party sites, fed by each individual agent, sometimes in conjunction with the local MLS’s.  Many times there information is not very up to date.  I constantly get phone calls from potential buyers on houses that have sold months and sometimes years ago that they have found on Trulia or Zillow.  If you want a good national home search than you may want to check out as the name is owned by the National Association of Realtors and have licensed the information to another company.  The homes for sale are fed directly from all the local participating multiple listing services.

Home Buying Secret #3 Many of these third party sites, repackage the listing and try to get you to sign up or call and then try to sell the “lead” back to a real estate agent, sometimes at a very hefty price.

So if you are serious about buying a home, contact a local real estate agent about getting signed up to receive listings.  Most agents have feeds directly to their states MLS with the most up to date information. I have two different home searches that update between every 20 minutes to every 12 hours.  Unfortunately by the rules of the Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service, you have to be a registered buyer to receive the full listing information on a property.

Tips for using home search-

  1. Familiarize yourself with the site, some of these agent home searches are very powerful tools, unfortunately many buyers don’t take the time to understand how they fully work.
  2. The searches will output exactly what you put into the search criteria… be aware of what you are doing!  Many times I have buyers call me saying they found a home on another site but why isn’t it on mine.  Invariably, its because they are not comparing apples to apples.  They will tell me I do not want a home….. I will not look at a home that is situated on less than a half an acre!! Don’t show them to me!!  I look and the house they can’t fine on my home search will be on a quarter of an acre where they have the cut off at a half an acre on my site.
  3. Be realistic about what you are looking for in a home.  Trying to cover 20 communities from a $100,000 to $400,000 is a daunting task.  Lets face it most buyers want to buy a $400,000 home for $120,000.00…. Guess what it doesn’t exist!! Or the other mistake home buyers make is they know what they want in a home but they keep pipe dream communities on their search where they have no hope of finding the home they want or need.
  4. The more you can focus your search the easier it is to focus on homes that you maybe truly  interested in buying.

I personally use two sites.  Sometimes I will sign clients up on both and see which one they like the look and feel they prefer.  They each have distinct differences.

The first one I use, I like because it has very comprehensive search criteria for the home buyer as well as having a very extensive back end that makes working with the client easier for me as well as one of the best property details on the buyer end.

Also with this home search comes some other neat tools.  First there is a desktop application call Messenger that will notify you right on your desktop if I property that meets your criteria comes on the market.  They will also have a Droid/iPhone applications soon also.

Free Sign up for MLS Property Finder

The second one I use is the ultimate in a map based search.  You plug in your criteria by convenient to use slide bars then the results show all the properties with basic detail on the left and as you hover over each one it will show you where the property is located on the map on the right.  Or, alternatively you can search on the map and as you hover over each location the basics details will pop up.

This search is convenient easy to use and is a great tool if you are extremely particular about location.

Free Sign-up for the Ultimate Map Based Search

Finding a good real estate agent to guide you through the process can save you countless hours of searching.  I have housing data as well as the “know how” on how to  to interpret it.  I can quickly show you where reality lies in your home search so you can focus on proprties that will truly fit your criteria.

For example: I will have many buyers approach me with….  I want a house, it HAS built after 1990 (after 2000 would be better) and it HAS to have over 2000 square feet and it HAS to be in Andover.  Guess what?!! It doesn’t exist and the likeliness of it existing is slim to none!!  How do I know that I just ran the data for the past 5 years, in Andover there is currently nothing on the market or has sold in the past 5 years that fit that criteria.  In Tewksbury there have only been 4 homes that fit that criteria and Haverhill there has been 68 homes that fit that criteria.

Hope this saves you some time.  Happy house hunting!!



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