Why Nearly Half of All Home Searches Start Online (and What to Do Next)

Why Nearly Half of All Home Searches Start Online (and What to Do Next)

Since its inception in the ‘80s, the internet has evolved tremendously over a few decades. Now the internet is one of society’s most versatile tools, lending itself to hundreds of different applications for our everyday use. One beneficiary is the real estate industry. According to a report in 2022 by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), about 41% of homebuyers start with an online home search. They browse dozens of available real estate websites to find their ideal home, utilizing advanced search filters to narrow listings to their desired specifications.
Why do buyers start with an online home search? The answer is simple — the process is much more streamlined and can be done anywhere on a mobile device. Buyers love convenience, and there is nothing more convenient than browsing for homes online with search filters. They can search by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the price range, the type of property, and other specific features.
Of course, finding the ideal home is only the beginning. Once you have found a home that suits your needs, be prepared to devote yourself to a series of nine critical steps.

Reach out to a real estate agent

If you haven’t done so already, get in touch with a real estate agent who specializes in the area of your desired home. Real estate agents offer several benefits, including but not limited to intimate knowledge of the current real estate trends, an extensive network of professionals and contractors, familiarity with the homebuying process, and strong negotiation skills essential to securing the best possible deal on the property. In addition to these benefits, a buyer’s agent comes at no cost to you. The seller pays the commission fees for both agents involved in the sale.

Research the home

When was the home built? What did it initially look like? What kind of maintenance will the house require, and how often? For example, an old home may require more routine maintenance than a newer home. Moreover, researching the home’s history satisfies curiosity and fosters an emotional connection with the property.

Get a pre-approval letter

The first step in every home search is to get pre-approved. The pre-approval process is quick, easy, and crucial. A lender will analyze your financial history and income to determine how much of a loan you qualify for, thus affecting how much of a home you can afford. It’s recommended to receive a pre-approval letter before you begin the home search, but it’s never too late to start if you haven’t done so already. Most sellers will not even consider a buyer who hasn’t been pre-approved — so make pre-approval a top priority.

Check your credit score

For favorable mortgage rates, you should have a credit score of at least 700. For the lowest mortgage rates, that number should be at least 740. Check your credit score before you apply for a loan and ensure everything is accurate and up-to-date. If you notice an error or inconsistency, address it right away. Even the smallest of score improvements can go a long way.
Your overall credit score is affected by the following five factors:
  • Your payment history. On-time payments significantly boost your score.

  • The total amount of debt you owe. Your score benefits from less debt.

  • The length of your credit history. A more extended credit history demonstrates your experience and reliability as a borrower.

  • Credit mix. A mix of different credit types shows that you can manage different credit products.

  • Credit inquiries. Each new inquiry negatively affects your score. Refrain from attempting to open new credit accounts while buying a home.

Compare different mortgage rates

As the national and local real estate markets shift, so do the mortgage rates. Receive quotes from at least three different lenders in a given day and compare their rates. Choose the rate that best suits your needs. If you have the time, you may observe the shift in these rates over a week, but you must acknowledge the possibility of rates increasing rather than decreasing.

Decide your financing plan

There are a handful of loans you can apply for depending on your credit score, financial needs, and personal preferences. Consider the following four options:
  • The most common type of non-government-backed loan is a conventional mortgage. You need a good credit score, but you can put down a down payment as little as 3%.

  • A fixed-rate mortgage has the same mortgage rate for the entirety of the loan term.

  • An adjustable-rate mortgage is the opposite of a fixed-rate mortgage. The interest fluctuates throughout the term.

  • A jumbo loan is suitable for luxury homes with high price tags. These loans exceed standard government borrowing limits, but with an excellent credit score, you can take out a considerably sized loan.

Make yourself stand out as a buyer

Chances are, you’ll find yourself up against decent competition in a bid for your ideal home. Make yourself stand out in a couple of ways.
  • Put down earnest money. Also known as a good faith deposit, earnest money is an additional sum demonstrating your commitment to buying the home.

  • Write a letter to the seller. Explain why you love the home and what makes you the best candidate.

Schedule a home inspection

Homes listed for sale are like any other product — they are professionally staged and tailored to appeal to you on aesthetics alone. Schedule a home inspection to verify the home’s physical condition. An inspection report will reveal major and minor issues with the property, such as evidence of mold, infrastructural damages, faulty systems, and other things of import. Your agent may then use these results to negotiate a better deal on your behalf.

Close on the home

Congratulations! The seller has accepted your offer. The final step is to schedule a closing day where the funds and legal ownership of the property will be transferred between the two parties. You will also have to pay some closing costs, but after that, the home is as good as yours.

Team up with Sheena Ghiani

To learn more about optimizing your online home search, reach out to Sheena Ghiani, a talented West Hollywood real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of West Hollywood real estate. Her commitment to success and client satisfaction distinguish her as one of the top agents in the region. With Sheena, you will discover what exceptional service is all about. Kindly give her a call today!

*Header photo courtesy of Pexels

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