In today’s guide, we are going to talk about how the digital world has changed house hunting, then we will get into more of the logistics and finish off explaining 3 of the most most important elements in the process.
It has been said that moving is one of the most stressful events a person or family can experience! We are looking to make this a fun and exciting experience.
Home Buying Tips In The Digital Age
The digital age has changed the way buyers browse for and purchase goods and services, including real estate. While home buyers still can check out property listings via a print newspaper or by driving through desired neighborhoods in hopes of finding a “for sale” sign, digital sources offer more options and can make the home buying process easier.
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) states in their 2017 Report: Real Estate in a Digital Age, that 44-percent of home buyers look online when beginning their search.
Social Media As Sources For Home Buyers
According to the Pew Research Center, 68-percent or two-thirds of U.S. adults use Facebook. In addition to that popular social media site, American adults regularly use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube on a daily basis for entertainment, social engagement, shopping, and news. These sites also can be excellent sources for home buyers.
Home buyers now have instant, easy access to a wide variety of property listings beyond those featured on an individual real estate agency’s website. Many real estate agents post listings on social media with interior/exterior photos and some with virtual tours. Sites like YouTube offer valuable resources particular for first-time home buyers, from tips to how-to’s.
Real Estate Apps
More than 90-percent of all real estate firms have a website. Visiting these sites are a great starting point and ideal way to connect with an agent that knows the local market. However, home buyers may also consider real estate apps to enhance the process. Even if not tech savvy, these apps are easy to use.
The most used real estate apps are available for both Android and iOS. Digital Trends offers a breakdown of several of the most popular. Ask a real estate agent if they have one that’s specific to their firm. These apps can help:
- Customize a search by location, property type, features, and price
- Reveal the worth or rental value of a property
- Show floor plans and exterior/interior photos
- Provide details about neighborhoods
- Offer lending institution information
- Directly connect buyers with a real estate agent
Stay Connected With A Real Estate Agent
Cell phones appear to be everywhere today and research shows that 77-percent of Americans own a smartphone. With that smartphone it’s easier than ever to stay connected with a real estate agent when buying a home. An agent can text or email potential listings to the phone, schedule open house meetings, and send updates regarding the offer just made on the perfect home.
Home buyers that can embrace the digital age have the opportunity to take advantage of the multiple platforms and tools available for making a real estate purchase.
3 Tips To Get The Most Of Your Time House Hunting
Location is the First Factor to Consider When Planning a Move.
If you have children, or are planning a family, you will want to know about the schools in the area. How about shopping centers, medical facilities, recreational opportunities and of course how far will you be from your place of employment. If you require public transportation, is there any within walking distance of your prospective new home. What about the crime rate? A check with the local law enforcement agency can either put your mind at ease or give you reason to look elsewhere.
And finally, try to assess the quality and character of the people who live in the area. This is obviously difficult to do without interviewing them, but you can get a rough impression from the condition of their homes and properties and from the activities you might observe.
As an example, if your prospective neighbor has discarded appliances all over the front yard and their son sits in the yard in furniture meant for the indoors, outdoors, while taking the odd break to ride his mini-bike with no muffler around the neighborhood – you might want to take all that into consideration.
And remember, a poor location will definitely be a negative factor when and if you attempt to resell the home at some later date. Once you’ve zeroed in on your preferred location, you can start to think seriously about searching for your dream home.
Searching for Your Dream Home
Rather than spin your wheels by looking at houses randomly, you should determine what you really want in a house and let those things help you focus your search. Make a list and start with the obvious: how many bedrooms do you need; do you want a garage; must you have a single story home due to your inability to climb stairs; is a fenced yard an absolute necessity?
After listing the absolute “must haves”, think about the things you like and dislike about your current residence and factor those things into your wish list.
Making a list will not only save you time, it will be a big help to your REALTOR® in planning your viewings.
Most people don’t really know how much house they can afford. Affordability is based upon income, credit status, interest rates, down payment, closing costs and the type of loan selected.
By getting pre-qualified by a lending institution, you will know what you can afford to spend. Often, that figure is quite a surprise to prospective home buyers. In any case, pre-qualification will save you time and trouble by establishing your price range.
Typically, house hunting involves seeing as many homes as possible in a short period of time. Both the house hunter and the assisting REALTOR® have busy schedules and want to tour fast and furious. However, after the first two or three houses, they all start to run together. You need to make notes after each viewing.
One effective means of qualifying each home is to make multiple copies of your list of priorities and use it as a checklist to grade each home visited. This little tip will eliminate confusion when trying to make mental comparisons at the end of the day.
Regard Your Hunt as an Excursion
If you were going to the zoo for the day and contemplated a lot of walking, you would dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes. House hunting is no different; you’ll be walking, climbing stairs, quite possibly going into basements and attics and constantly getting in and out of cars.
Dressing to impress homeowners or your REALTOR® should not be your top priority. Dress clean and neat of course, but comfortable is the name of the hunting game. And last but not least, use your own REALTOR®. When you call the REALTOR® on a “house for sale” sign you’re speaking to the seller’s agent. Keep in mind that he or she represents the seller and will be looking after the seller’s interests. You should get a great local REALTOR® to represent and look out for your best interests!
We can’t emphasize how important it is to have your own REALTOR®.
House hunting can actually be an enjoyable experience if you take your time and do your homework. We mentioned three suggestions in this article about finding a great real estate expert (click the banner above to find an excellent local agent), about getting pre-approved and creating a list of requirements, but we want to dig a little deeper into those topics, as they are critical.
3 Ways to Ensure Your Home Hunt is Successful!
#1 Find A Good Real Estate Agent
Finding a good real estate agent who has extensive knowledge on the area is the first step in this process. Preferably choose one who has lived in the area for quite some time and knows the community and neighborhood. A trustworthy local agent will have invaluable information about the city and it’s surrounds. They may know about homes that haven’t been listed yet or sellers that want to close quickly. This information will be vital when you don’t have much time available to find a home. Believe it or not, we recommend you pick your real estate agent like you’d pick a boyfriend/girlfriend!
You’ll also want to choose a REALTOR® you can trust – one that understands your needs and won’t push their own agenda.
Consider Using a Referral Agency – What is that?
A referral agency simply put connects buyers and sellers to real estate agents. There are many different types of agencies that vary from ones that do not care how you connect with and simply sell your name once they get it from you, all the way up to agencies that take the time to handpick your agent after careful scrutiny! The value of RealAgents.ca’s free service to you is by helping you avoiding the worst agencies, ensuring you connect with a great agent! It’s what we do best.
Many people have had or heard negative stories about agents, but going through a good referral agency is the best way to do your due diligence. To learn more about referral agencies, you may want to look at this article.
#2 Get Your Mortgage Pre-Approved
Before you officially start searching, get pre-approved for a mortgage. This allows you to look at homes that fall in your price range and shows sellers that you’re serious about buying. If a seller has received several offers they could be inclined to sell you the home as they know you can afford it.
Pre-Qualification vs Pre-Approval
Sometimes you’ll hear the terms (check out our glossary!) pre-qualification and pre-approval thrown around interchangeably. However, these two terms are very different. A pre-approval is much more valuable as it is a personalized amount based on certain criteria and your specific circumstances. Whereas a pre-qualification is just an estimate and does not guarantee that you’ll get this amount.
#3 Create A List of Requirements
House hunting when you have a lot of time or don’t have much time should be done in an organized manner so that you can work quickly, especially if you are in a competitive market. So, create a list of the things you need in a home and neighborhood. Make a second list of things that you’d like to have but that aren’t necessities. When you do start looking don’t bother with homes that lack the qualities on your must-have list.
Your agent will be able to tell you which items on your list are and are not realistic in your area and with your price point. However, before discussing with your agent, make sure you really sit down and think through the wants vs. needs.
Real Estate is a very emotional industry and a very personal decisions and it is easy to get caught up in ‘fairy tails’ of sorts. We want you to find your dream home, but its equally as important to set your exceptions carefully. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure or disappointment. Purchasing a home is a lot like a roller coaster and we don’t want you going home after your first ride!
We hope that you are a few steps closer and a lot wiser as you enter into the home buying phase. We wish you the best of luck and hope that you will consider using our free service that enhances your REALTOR® experience and reduces your risk. This short video explains it all:
Sources for some facts…
http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/ (YouTube stats)
http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/ (smartphone stat)