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How To Use The Internet To Buy A House

As a recent first-time homeowner, I have no experience buying a house pre-Internet. But based on how much my husband and I relied on the Internet to search for, make offers on and repair our new home, I have no idea how people did it before – and I don’t think I’d like to know.

Whether you’ve bought and sold a thousand times or you’re first timers like we were, there are many online tools you can use to make house buying easier. Here are a few of our favorites:

forsale2Search

Oh, the great home search. The Internet – specifically Zillow, RedFin and other realty websites – can come in very handy when you’re searching for new listings. And that part of the process got me thinking about just how much a realtor’s job has changed in the past few years.

During the course of our home search, we scoured the listings many times a day. We discovered houses we were interested in all on our own, including the one we ended up buying. The realtor had many other vital roles –  like occasionally providing “pocket listings” and helping us close the deal – but with the plethora of online search tools offering so many photos and so much data, buying is much more of a hands-on game for buyers today.

Offer

Making an offer on a home is another step where the Internet comes into play. When considering an offer from a seller, you can turn again to Zillow, or to sites like Trulia, to get background information on the houses you are interested in. You can also supplement that online research with good old-fashioned county property records.

For example, we looked up tax records, recent sales in the area and “Zestimates” for houses we liked. We also used property records to see how long the current owners had owned the property and what their estimated costs were. Overall, we were able to get a pretty good idea of what it would be like to own our house before we ever made an offer, which made us a lot more comfortable making one.

mini_house_handRepair

So your house is purchased, the papers are signed and now there’s likely a repair or update you need to make. No worries – Yelp, Angie’s List, Thumbtack and other review websites can help you find the service you need. Online estimates and quotes are also available for many services.

We recently got estimates for a new fence. Not knowing how much it would cost, we submitted online requests to half a dozen companies. All of our research and communication was done online, and we got a lot of viable offers from solid companies. Again, what did people do in “the good old days?”

As you can see, we relied on the Internet a lot while purchasing our first house, and we continue to rely on it for decorating and updating. While I understand concerns people have about personal property information being a lot more “out there” these days, it’s also a lot more helpful for buyers making decisions. Use that to your advantage and let the Internet take you home.

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