It’s OK to start your home search online, but don’t finish it there.
Buying a new home can be a daunting task — and it can take a lot of your time too. It has several steps, from the initial decision to buy to the final closing day. While online house shopping can simplify the home shopping process, you should know these pros and cons before you begin.
Pros of Online House Shopping
Narrow Down Your Choices
One of the first things to consider when planning a new home purchase is the location where you want to live. Before even starting to look, it’s smart to get pre-approved. Before beginning to shop, taking this step gives you a realistic budget to stick to, as it includes your mortgage lender conducting a thorough review of credit and income. The lender will then generate a pre-approval letter, including an estimated interest rate offer and maximum principal amount.
Perhaps you want to stay in a particular school district or be within walking distance of your favorite parks and shops. Maybe your dream home sits surrounded by stately trees or in a neighborhood with wide sidewalks meandering past older homes with large yards. Whatever your criteria, you can go online and look at everything from walkability to aerial views of almost any area. Once you have found a home you’re interested in pursuing, your pre-approval letter will help you stand out as it shows you are serious about the purchase.
Online house shopping allows you to browse homes whenever you have time. You don’t have to constantly contact a real estate agent to find out what’s new on the market, when a home has sold, offers are made, how long a house has been on the market, or other important information. Sometimes, you can even take virtual home tours without even leaving your sofa! Even a generation ago, who would have thought you could “walk through” your potential new home on a mobile device while waiting for your child at soccer practice?
Money and time are two things you don’t want to waste. Online house shopping can help you decide which potential houses are worth touring in person. This can be especially useful if you’re planning a long-distance move, as it can reduce the number of trips you must take before making your final decision.
Cons of Online House Shopping
Online home listings and information can be a great starting point, but they probably won’t tell you every detail you need to know. Shopping in person lets you get a feel for your new home and the neighborhood. There’s nothing like being there to investigate all the nooks and crannies for potential problems not visible online.
The Personal Touch
When you work with a real estate agent from the start, you can get personal insight that a website can’t provide. For example, a house might look great in photos and have all the features you’re looking for, but your real estate agent can tip you off about potentially incompatible factors or upcoming zoning changes. Additionally, partnering with a local lender gives you the opportunity to work with someone who will take the time to understand you and your financial and personal goals to match you with the mortgage that is right for you.
Visualize Your Future
It can be difficult to imagine your family in a home until you’ve stood inside it, looked out the windows, tested all the doors, and peered into all the cabinets. Viewing a home in person gives you a better idea of how you might fit into this new space, and whether you really can feel at home there.
Occasionally, dishonest people may post false advertisements to get your personal information. Remember never to disclose personal or financial information over the Internet. A good rule of thumb to follow: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Bottom Line
The Internet is a helpful resource, and online house shopping can make your home buying process a little easier. Use it as a tool; just don’t rely on it for everything. Combined with the guidance of a knowledgeable real estate professional and a reliable, independent mortgage lender like GoPrime Mortgage in West Asheville, online house shopping can prove a useful tool, bringing you one step further on your road home.