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A Simple Guide To Searching For Real Estate Online

The first time I was in the market to buy a home was nearly twenty years ago. After meeting with a mortgage broker and getting a roundabout figure for how much moolah I would be able to spend, I headed straight to the supermarket to fill my arms with all the latest real estate mags and local newspapers.

Break times at the office were spent poring over the listings I’d circled or otherwise demarcated, and weekends were for filling up MLSsearchmagnifyingglassthe car with gas and traversing the city in search of “for sale” signs or to investigate properties that had piqued my interest.

Eventually I was introduced to an agent who showed me properties listed on the MLS and in the end I wound up buying a house that wasn’t to be found in any of the real estate publications strewn about my desk.

Back then, without an agent, the Multiple Listing Service was totally inaccessible. Today, most websites have a search facility like the one on Royal Palm Realty that lets you view all the area’s listings. A myriad of websites allow you to search millions of listings at the touch of a button. For example, you can search Key West by neighborhood or any of the MLS listings in the Key West and in the Florida Keys here: http://www.kwluxury.royalpalmsrealty.com/idx/search/basic.  You’ll find most real estate websites will have a similar feature.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Sure, we now live in the internet age, but this doesn’t mean that you should limit your search 100% to the internet. If you’re looking to buy in a nearby town or neighborhood, there’s still incredible value in pounding the pavement to get a real feel for what it might be like to live in a new area.

Old school style home scouting can also help you run across those diamonds in the rough. For example, not every home that’s “For Sale by Owner” will be listed online.

The same goes for working with an agent. Modern online search mechanisms make sorting through listings a breeze, but having an extra set of eyes out there might make the difference in finding the perfect property at just the right price. Remember, an agent will be flipping through listings all day long, and they’ll be more apt to hear about a new listing through the grapevine before it even hits the MLS,  or catch it online immediately after it’s gone live.

The granddaddy of them all.

For breadth of inventory and depth of search, look no further than Realtor.com. Within reason you can count on finding virtually every property listed in the United States (as well as international listings) to be searchable on Realtor.com.

Not only can you refine your search by basic parameters as price and geographic location, but you’ll be able to whittle down the results via property, lot, and community features. It’s also a piece of cake to separate out different types of properties such as single-family, multi-family, townhomes, condos, and so on.

Realtor.com displays properties with tons of photos, in a format that’s visually pleasing and easy to navigate.

But beware of the “other” features that allow you to check property values or view market conditions. Many of Realtor.com’s analytical tools are merely a guise to get you to send your contact details to a local agent! If you’re looking for an agent in your area, then perhaps this is right up your alley, but if not, it’s best to do market analysis elsewhere.

Let’s dive deeper here and get the down low.

Market analysis websites like Trulia.com and Zillow.com make it extremely easy to get a “gist” of real estate prices and conditions in a particular area. By entering in a property’s address you can find an estimate of a house’s current value that’s actually based on real data such as recent sales of comparable homes and real estate value trends in that particular area.

Take this information with a grain of salt. There’s a lot of data missing from these estimates that will greatly affect the true market value of a property. For example, the current owners could have recently completed a massive renovation, or conversely the home could be in disrepair and need a lot of work.

An online estimate can never replace the in depth work of a professional appraiser, but Trulia.com and Zillow.com will allow you to follow trends and find out for yourself what the previous owner paid for a property and how the list amount matches up with general price levels. Within a couple minutes you can see which houses in the neighborhood are currently for sale, which ones sold recently, and at which price they sold.

Bottom line, don’t buy a house without comparing the asking price with its “zestimate”. But don’t run for the hills or think you’re getting a steal just because the numbers don’t match. Online market analysis is meant to provide you with a starting point to ask more specific questions to the seller/agent, and not to be an encyclopedia offering every little detail about a property.

Your real estate agent can help you find the right home for you, wherever you plan to buy bank owned Homes in Murrieta CA.

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