With many Internet sites focused on real estate and new homes for sale, plus loads of real estate agents with websites or on social networks, finding a new home for sale online has never been easier. Of course, there's no way to avoid real-world searches – attending open houses, walking or driving through neighborhoods -- nor should you. But the wealth of information, statistics and even home-video tours online should help you streamline and target your search for a new home online.
However, that information overload means that buyers need to do their homework and cross-reference listings. Handy programs like MapQuest help you figure out if a listing is a beauty or a beast.
Here's a guide to help you navigate through the mass of new homes for sale online.
Search for a Real Estate Agent
These days, Realtors are just a click away. Perennial pros at social networking (that's how they traditionally have netted clients), real estate agents are all over the Web from Aol.com to social media sites like Facebook.com, Twitter.com and Google buzz. (Here are some tips on how to find an agent via Twitter).
Determining compatibility with an agent will be much more effortless, the more you know what kind of new home you want to buy. What is the dealbreaker? Do you need a second bathroom, or a yard? Or is the school district important? To get a quick snapshot of what homes are for sale online, AOL Real Estate lets you search cities in all states. Search both by price range and location and other criteria, like square footage or days on the market. Most listings are posted by real estate agents -- another way to find a Realtor online.
The Online Open House Never Closes
All major real estate brokerage firms have websites that showcase their listings: Coldwell Banker, Sotheby's, RE/MAX, Prudential and Keller Williams Realty all allow potential homebuyers to search by location, price range and more. Also search YouTube for new homes for sale and don't be surprised to find dozens of online previews of dwellings. One firm, Coldwell Banker, has its own channel where agents like Billy Chacon can be seen introducing just-listed properties.
"YouTube,com is a new way for agents to reach buyers, and buyers benefit because they can take a tour at their convenience," says Chacon. Digital open houses let buyers get an almost-full picture of a property; and like the Internet, these open houses are 24/7.
Major sites like RealEstate.Aol.com, Realtor.com and the Multiple Listing Service are good sources of information. At Zillow, you can plug in an address and get a benchmark value for a property, including estimated property taxes and a mortgage payment calculator.
Looking for a Deal?
Search for foreclosed homes via AOL's foreclosure listing or foreclosure.com, but remember that you are buying a foreclosed home from a bank, so the closing process tends to be more complicated. As this advice to first-time buyers reminds us, no matter what kind of property you are looking for, expect the search (including pre-approval) to take months.
Browse through photos of millions of home listings or search foreclosure listings
Do Your Homework
To ensure that you won't be disappointed or become emotionally invested in a new home for sale that is out of your price range, get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.
"The number one thing a buyer needs to do is become pre-qualified with a professional (and competent) mortgage broker or banker," says Paul Burger, senior loan officer at Frost Mortgage. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a property and realize that you can't afford it.
As Lesley Suter explains: When she finally found her new home online, after being outbid for 18 other houses, there was only one exterior photo of it posted. "In this case online didn't do what it's best at (showcasing properties)," she explains. "But the single photo may have discouraged other people from seeing it, and we were able to put an offer in that was accepted."
For more on home buying see these AOL Real Estate guides:
- How to Get a Home Loan with Bad Credit
- How to Negotiate a Home Purchase
- How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
Find homes for sale in your area.
Find foreclosures in your area.
Get property tax help from our experts.