Used to be, if you were interested in looking for a home to buy, you either consulted the classifieds of your local newspaper or happened upon For Sale signs while driving through various desirable neighborhoods. True, while many potential home buyers continue these time-honored techniques, there is something to be said for using the Internet to pursue your dream home. Using the tools available to you, you have the ability to research homes, condominiums, and apartments before you physically scout the property. Here are just a few tools to keep handy for your next house search.
Real Estate Search Engines
Most people think of Google or Yahoo when contemplating Internet search. While both major portals are helpful for the house hunter (Yahoo has a Real Estate channel, and Google allows for home listings search via Google Base), don't discount the smaller niche engines designed to outline available properties. A functional real estate search engine will let you plug in your price range, desired location, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Results are tailored to your specifications, and if the engine you choose doesn't offer enough information via maps and photos, you may wish to supplement your findings through Google Maps' street view function to get a better idea of the neighborhood. Popular real estate search engines include Trulia.com, Realtor.com, and Zillow.com.
MLS listings may change daily. The For Sale sign you see one day may have a SOLD notice attached to it the next. Especially in a buyer's market, you need to have the edge over other house hunters so you can bid on the home you want. If you are familiar with the real estate companies in your area, you may want to research their websites to see if they offer RSS feeds on their website.
Applying real estate RSS feeds to your Internet home page or RSS reader downloads current home listings to one location, so you don't have to search the whole Internet for information. As you find listings that appeal to you, simply click the listing for detailed information.
Does your cell phone accept text messages? You may wish to have new listings sent straight to your phone so you can house hunt with ease when you're not in front of the computer. The New York Times, for one, offers current listings via mobile SMS.
From Internet maps to syndicated feeds, it is easier to search for new homes online. Use the tools available to map out your next house search.