Your pre-approval is in and you know your budget. Now, can you find an affordable property that meets your requirements?
Searching for the perfect deal is stressful, but there are online tools that can help. This article focuses on the options available to American home buyers. Go through the list and see how each of these home search services can benefit you.
The Best Online Home Buying Tools
Below is a short list of the most popular and effective Internet-based home buying tools. These products offer many similarities but they also have plenty of differences. The best results will come from utilizing a handful of these options.
- Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
What can these tools do to help you?
MLS Helps You Scope the Market
Both brokers and home buyers use MLS stats and trends for market research. The Home Price Index (HPI) factors 15 years of data. The HPI helps set pricing standards by neighborhood and house type. This metric provides a relative indication of the appropriate asking price for a specific property.
The MLS serves as a great portal for daily searches and alerts. MLS listings are more up-to-date than what you see with most third-party search tools. Most national portal sites do not update immediately when listings come off the market. Their listings come from MLS data, so why not go right to the source?
Zillow Identifies the Value of a Deal
Zillow is where buyers and sellers migrate to transact. MLS stats help show the trend so you can better understand the market. Zillow stats dig deeper and help you with appraising the value of a specific property or area. Many investors and first-time home buyers prefer Zillow as a price comparison tool.
Zillow offers unique home buying opportunities. The company underwent a brief home-flipping stint. As of November 2021, there are over 7,000 homes that the company is trying to liquidate. The listing prices are dropping the longer these properties sit. This company is no longer investing in property acquisition and resale as a long-term play.
Public Listings Show Fast with Realtor.com
Realtor.com is quick to update its MLS syndicated listings. This website operates under the National Association of Realtors (NAR). As of 2019, there is a ban on pocket listings for members of the NAR. These realtors only have 24 hours to close before they must put the property on the public market. You will still find off-market homes, but the practice is becoming less common.
Note: Your advantage disappears if you sign an exclusivity clause with the realtor. Keep negotiations open-ended. Let the realtor know they can contact you if they come across a certain type of property. Most of these individuals will remember you, especially if you offer a fast close.
Redfin Agents Give the Best Viewings
Redfin is beneficial to many buyers. The company boasts a long list of agents that work with them. You can compare reviews and pick who to request when viewing a property. Redfin agents are friendly and do not pressure you into making offers. These agents are on salary and receive bonuses for positive reviews from clients. Their time gets paid for while most realtors only put food on their table if you follow through and purchase.
The offer process on Redfin is straightforward. Your agent will provide a to-do list that you can manage on their website. The entire closing process takes about 40 to 50 days.
Movoto Only Offers Quality Realtors
Movoto is a full-service brokerage with a user-friendly online search platform. Your agent will assist with all steps from viewing to closing a deal. Their service is like what Redfin offers but is done on a smaller scale. The up-sell is in how they screen their realtors.
Movoto only accepts the top 5 percent of realtors in any area. The company requires that its agents hold a minimum of three years experience. Their sales history for the past year must include at least 10 properties. Unfortunately, Movoto does not publish ratings for their agents as Redfin does.
Offer Cash with iBuyers
iBuying is a game-changing tool for many home buyers. iBuyers like Homie.com or OpenDoor offer up to a 50 percent kickback on buyer commissions. With incentives like “Homie Cash”, all sellers receive a cash offer with a 21 day closing period. This offer is much more enticing for the seller. They claim it increases your chance of winning the home by up to 300 percent.
Nearly one-third of real estate transactions are cash deals. This number is growing because of COVID-19 and the iBuying trend. When it’s a seller’s market, the cash offer means a faster close and no risk of backing out because of funding issues. Even with a pre-approval, many deals fail once it comes time to close.
Finding Private, Pre-Market, or Pocket Listings
The MLS is an automated lead generation service for realtors. Most properties sell from the exposure that comes from the MLS. Pocket listings are non-public and offer privacy to the buyer and seller.
The easiest way to find these deals is by openly communicating with realtors. They want to promote their private listings whenever they can. Get your name out and explain what you want to buy. Let the agent know you want to hear of any listings before they come to market.
Some realtors will favor clients that view and offer on other properties. If you can’t close on a place, at least keep an open relationship with the broker. You never know when the perfect place comes up and they think of you.
The real estate industry is changing thanks to technology and forward-thinking companies. The landscape is quickly evolving for home buying tools and services. Your experience should be a comfortable one. Set yourself up with the right research products and brokerage platform or firm.
Your new home is a few mere clicks and picks away!