Searching for a new house can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially when browsing through Zillow listings. In this guide, we will provide you with essential tips and tools to see past the glam and make informed decisions while house hunting. Whether you're looking for a primary residence, an investment property, or your dream home, these strategies will help you find the perfect fit for your needs.
• Using Zillow vs. the MLS - Get Accurate Data:
While Zillow is a great platform for browsing pictures, it might not provide accurate and reliable data. To seriously search for houses, connect with your realtor through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Although the user interface might not be visually appealing, the data is up-to-date and trustworthy. Vet properties from Zillow and other platforms against the MLS to avoid wasting time on already under-contract properties.
• Diamond in the Rough - Look Beyond the Photos:
Don't skip listings without photos or ones with poor-quality images. These houses may hide excellent opportunities. Sort listings by the number of days on the market and start with the oldest ones. Some properties may have been overlooked due to poor presentation by the listing agent. Take advantage of reduced competition and find potential deals.
• Due Diligence and Equity - Assessing Home Conditions:
Conduct thorough due diligence on a property before committing. Review seller disclosures, which must highlight major changes made to the house, like the roof, HVAC, and windows. Check the age and condition of these systems and inquire about any repairs or replacements. Assess the home's foundation, plumbing, and pest history. Verify if warranties exist for these features.
• Location Matters - Review the Area:
Before visiting a house, review its location on the map. Note if it's near noisy roads, business parks, or train tracks. Loud locations might affect resale value in the future. Check for amenities like pools, parks, and golf courses nearby. Ensure your agent points out any red flags about the location before you commit.
• House Tours - Inspect with a Critical Eye:
Before visiting houses, drive through the neighborhood with your agent to get a feel for the area. During the tour, conduct a visual inspection, looking for cracks in the driveway and windows, which can indicate foundation problems. Pay attention to finishes and materials used, especially if the house is a flip. Purple paint, stained floorings, and dated fixtures might be opportunities to secure a good deal.
• Preparing to Engage - Gathering Information:
After finding a potential house, do extensive research. Check if the house is in a natural disaster-prone area and assess the monthly deals. Verify if there are any restrictions on leasing the property if it's an investment. Look into tax rates, as they can vary significantly. Ensure there are no outstanding loans or leases, particularly important for houses with solar panels.
• Understanding Market Value - Negotiation Strategies:
Work with your realtor to conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to determine the fair market value of the property. Balancing your desire for the lowest possible price with a serious offer is crucial. Understanding market value and negotiation strategies will help you secure the best deal without alienating the seller.
Conclusion - Navigating the House Hunting Journey:
House hunting can be a complex journey, but armed with these tips and tools, you can make informed decisions and find your perfect home. Remember to prioritize due diligence, assess home conditions, and take note of location aspects. Prepare yourself to engage in negotiations, and always be aware of market value dynamics. By being well-informed and attentive, you'll navigate the house hunting process successfully.
If you'd like to learn more about negotiation strategies and understanding market value. Contact us HERE Happy house hunting!