If you are strapped for time or looking for convenience, you may consider shopping for a home online.
While the initial stages of home buying take place before a home inspection, you still need to have a sharp eye and some help to determine if you are getting a property that is aboveboard. Searching online has its perks - including a low time and travel commitment - but there are more chances that you could be deceived by what the sellers or their agents are offering. Here are a few tips to avoid some common traps of shopping for a home online:
Take advantage of advanced search features
When using third-party listing sites, there's likely an advanced search option. Unlike a standard search, this feature allows for customization of more aspects of a home well beyond the price and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. These additional traits could include the year built, square footage, size of the lot and time that it has been active on the website.
However, do not limit your search by adding too many criteria. Consider leaving out some amenities that you are willing to compromise on for other features.
View listings with pictures
Narrowing your search to listings with pictures is typically a good rule of thumb for any online purchase. Images won't give you the thorough once over of a new home inspection, but they can give you an idea of the home's layout, the size of the rooms, the floors and other features. Properties that don't have pictures may have something to hide, which isn't a good sign.
Additionally, look for listings with a comprehensive set of images, including the exterior and interior. The more pictures you see, the easier it can be to limit the list of properties you view in person, thereby saving you some time.
Ask for guidance
Although looking through home listings online may seem easy enough, a little help can go a long way. Work with a real estate agent while you search. They are skilled in reading what a listing is actually offering and ways to weed out the properties that aren't worth your time.
Keep in mind that online searches can usually only serve as the beginning of the home buying process. Listings can only provide so much information, which is why it is necessary to visit properties and have a comprehensive property inspection to ensure the home you find is up to par both above and beneath the surface.