Virtual House Hunting
Busy schedules, geography or COVID-19 can all get in the way of searching for a home the traditional way. Luckily, advancements in technology along with a host of websites and apps make it easier than ever to hunt for a house from the comfort of your couch.
Start with Wants and Needs
Whether you are hunting for houses virtually or in person, you should begin your searches the same way: by making a list of wants vs. needs. If you have three children, you might decide you need a four-bedroom house. On the contrary, even though a basement that you can turn into a playroom would be nice, it isn’t a necessity and you’d be OK with a house that doesn’t have a basement. You also want to go into your search knowing what you can afford. Honing in on your needs will make the search for the perfect house easier and more efficient.
Use a House Hunting App or Website
From Zillow to Redfin, Realtor.com or Trulia, there are many apps available that make virtual house hunting as easy as a swipe on your smartphone. You can flip through photos, find details about the house and neighborhood and even schedule virtual tours. If you like to drive around and look for houses for sale, apps such as Homesnap allow you to take a photo of the home and the app will identify the property and provide details about it from multiple listing services or public records.
Just because you don’t have time or the ability to see a house in-person doesn’t mean you have to forego a tour. There are multiple options available, from watching a video tour of the interior and exterior of the house to a live video call on Google, Skype, or FaceTime. In addition to seeing all the features inside a house, you can also ask your real estate agent to show you the view from the front door or the back deck.
Even if you love a house, the last thing you want to do is pay too much for it. Asking your real estate agent to show you comparable sales (also known as comps) or looking for them yourself is the best way to ensure you’re not paying too much. In general, you want to look for houses that sold in the last three months within a certain radius of the house you are considering. The houses should be of similar age and construction style and have approximately the same square footage.
Dig into social media and additional sites or tools
If you find a house you like, you can usually find out more about the neighborhood by going to the town or neighborhood’s Facebook page. You can learn about the safety of the area on sites such as spotcrime.com, and connect with people in the neighborhood on apps such as Nextdoor.
Take advantage of these tips and tools and your homebuying journey may just get simpler. You can also check out our Homebuyer’s Guide for additional resources and contact one of our loan officers to get pre-approved.