When it comes to doing your next home search online, what websites come to mind? Often they're sites like Zillow.com, Realtor.com, and maybe Trulia.com. That's logical, as these sites spend considerable amounts of money on advertising. There is something to be said for some of the bells & whistles on those sites. However, there is a better approach to locating every possible home that meets your search criteria. Here is the best way to make sure that you don't miss that perfect home for you.
1. Receive pre-approval for a mortgage, as this will qualify you for a price range. Once you know what you can buy, don't let listed prices limit your possible choices. When you're doing your searches, if you have a limit of $285,000, make $295,000 or $300,000 the top end of your search. The main reason is that the majority of homes sell at some price below the list price. Don't miss seeing some of them just because the list price is above what you want to spend.
2. Find a local real estate website in your market area with an IDX search page. IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange, and it's an agreement among all brokerage members of the local MLS to allow their listings to appear on other member websites. Check out a few local sites, and look for the disclaimer at the bottom of the search page about IDX. Feel free to choose the site that is the most friendly to use or the one that offers other bells & whistles.
3. Look for one more thing on the site you like best. Hopefully, there will be a form to complete and the ability to save a search. This will allow you to tell the site what you want for home features, area, and price range. Once set, the MLS system will send you automated email alerts for new listings that match your search criteria. Many will also alert you to price reductions and depending on the site, you may see a place to request your search, and the agent will build it. Keep in mind that busy agents don’t always have the time to check for new listings daily, so by using the IDX system you will know about new listings before many of the area agents.
4. Remember, in most cases, Zillow does not have feeds that come from the MLS systems and on Zillow, many owners do not remove their listing after the home has sold, so you will see houses advertised that are not for sale. Therefore, you will get more up-to-date information from a local real estate website.
Following these steps and using a local agent’s website will deliver just about every home available to your computer or smartphone screen. The IDX site will be up to date because the MLS rules require their members to keep it current and most boards require the members to remove delisted or sold listings within 24 to 48 hours in order to avoid a fine. You will also want to start with a local site to get your alert search set up, so you are aware of new listings as soon as they hit the MLS and watching the price reductions can also alert you to your perfect home when it drops into your price range.