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House Search Tools Part 2…

March 17, 2012

Like I mentioned yesterday, here is how we search for houses on line. These are just the searches we use so if you’re in an entirely different area then us then it may be different. In my little bubble house searches look like this:

 

#1: We have a great Realtor: I am probably not super easy to work with. I over research, I’m picky, I’m cheap but want expensive and I care about stuff that has no impact on me whatsoever. I need a Realtor who walks me through steps, helps me feel important and returns my emails and calls quickly. I like to be semi-casual with my realtor and I have to be able to be HONEST with them.

When you buy property here in North Carolina the buyer does not have to pay any commission. The seller pays for all of it. This obviously fantastic if you are buying and crappy if you are selling – but it does help keep most of them around the same commission and it helps everyone work together to make a sale happen I think.

So far we have worked with 3 different well known nationally branded companies and I haven’t noticed a difference. I think it all varies with the actual Realtor. We have worked with male and female, young and middle aged. We have preferred young so far but I think mostly because I felt like they are “hungrier” to get my business and keep my business.

#2: Once we find a Realtor we want to work with I have them set me up with a personal “MLS Portal” – this is the easiest way to get up to date information and pictures quickly. The screen shots above and below are exact views from our portals as of today. You can see t hey give the MLS number, price, status, and then all the details on the house that I need to see at a glance.

Because these are personalized for us, normally the Realtor will go ahead and set in your perimeters to only show you what you’re looking for. This time around we had our maximum price range, we knew how many minimum bedrooms and square feet we were looking for. That’s already narrowed down before we even open the portal so it’s helpful that we aren’t looking at houses with only 1 bathroom and no garages that are 100k above what we’re willing to pay.

#3: This particular MLS portal let’s me save some houses and reject others. My Realtor can also recommend things but we haven’t had her do that so it’s mostly Albie and I weeding through them to save the ones we want to watch or visit.  I have gone through the whole “Newly Matched” tab and really only found a small percent that had the curb appeal and area to “Save” – after driving by or visiting in person they either stay in the “Saved” category or get booted to the “Rejected” tab. (For some reason though, I still watch those – not sure why. )

#4: This is where they show the actual address. This is the most important thing to us right off the bat because it normally shows us if it’s even in the area we want to be. A wrong zip code gets the property crossed off for us. This is an area that I have been fairly snobby about, but since we’re looking to buy a 15 + years house, I feel like I am ok to picky.

#5: The see map link is helpful in showing where on the street the actual house although 9 times out of 10 I end up googling the house anyway and trying to do the street view. I like to see what the neighbors houses look like, how far back from the road it it, what the back yard looks like from satellite view and sometimes even map it from work/ the beach to see what typical driving routes and distances are.

#6: The “View Details” link for us is where all the good information is that you can’t find in a regular report on line. This gives us the bedroom dimensions, whether it’s a short sale or foreclosure and what appliances they’re already willing to throw in. Sometimes it will tell you the age of the roof, how long they’ve owned the property and the estimated tax value. Super helpful information.

#7: The status of the house is something that changes ALL the time and can be hard to see on your regular real estate searches – Because this is personalized I also get emails when a house on my portal gets updated or changes status. It’s everything from Active (on the market, ready to be sold), Active Due Diligence (period of time when the buyer gets to essentially take it for a test drive and really decide if they want it), Under Contract (ready to purchase, basically locked in according to the terms of the contract to purchase), Pending (honestly not sure, but I think it’s between Under Contract and Sold), Sold (umm, sold.), Withdrawn (owner decided not to have the house on the market or sell for whatever reason), Expired (Owner let their listing expire).

#8: The pictures are big to me. Without pictures I can’t get excited and I need to get hyped if I’m going to take off work or waste a Saturday to visit. Some have upwards of 25 pictures to one listing others only have the exterior, which always makes me nervous – what are they hiding??

You’ll see some bad pictures and you’ll see some really pretty staged pictures but either way sometimes you just have to go walk in it to get a feel.

#9: Since I’ve been looking for so long I have to use this drop down pretty often to narrow it down to houses that are still on the market – I get sad looking at all the houses we’ve lost or missed.

This is an entirely different website obviously and it’s with a Real Estate company I don’t use but their website kicks butt. This is my favorite way to search outside of my MLS portal. Using a non-biased site sometimes let me play the “what if” game and rearrange priorities/ prices / and area without bothering my set search. (Realtor.com is a good starting point no matter where you live.)

#10: Even though I am in a pretty small-ish area it can still be divided into different “cities” – Which beach would I want to live at or do I want to be in a specific town?

#11: Outside of the actual city that I want to live in I like to search by subdivision and school district. I am aware I don’t have kids but buying in a great district helped int he selling of our house. This obviously where I get ahead of my self and overly picky – but it’s a big, LONG, investment so I think it’s allowed.

#12: The actual criteria on what we want in a house has grown over time and as we search. I feel like this changes the most.  We know we want 3+ bedrooms possibly 4, 2.5+ bathrooms (I’m weird in that I really want a powder room) and a 2 + car garage for the cars.  You can get super picky on some searches and specify that you want it already fenced, have a game room etc.

I think for the first time buyer, this is the best – narrow it down right away. Put in your dream  house and see where it’s located and how much it costs. Then, ya know, dial it back until you have a happy medium.

If y’all have specific questions feel free to email me and I’ll try to make sure they’re answered some how. Is there anything I left out that you think is crucial to the home search process?

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