How To Search For Homes

February 18, 2020
Buyers

You are out driving and pass by a house for sale. You want to find out the price and details of the home but what’s the best website or app to use to get the information?  Technology has made looking at homes easier and access to all of a home’s information is at your fingertips.  However, there are a lot of websites and options available which can lead to confusion, especially if they are providing different information.  I wanted to discuss just a few of the tops real estate sites and some pros and cons we have heard from clients over the years.   

Zillow, (They also own Trulia) Combined they average 59 million unique monthly site visitors.  

Pros: 

  • Very Functional and Easy to use
  • Information from a variety of sources such as public records, directly from the property owners, agreements they have with brokers or through a multiple listing service
  • Lots of data on the home
  • Zestimate 

Cons

  • Any changes made from a third party would be updated in Zillow within 24 hours.

We field a lot of calls for people looking for homes on Zillow, but might already be sold and not updated in their system.  

  • We get calls all the time from buyers excited about the pre-foreclosure listings.  

Zillow pulls from public records and will post as pre-foreclosure if the owner’s get a “Notice of Default”.  However, it doesn’t mean the home is for sale or that it will eventually be foreclosed on.  The current owners may be working to cure the default.

  • The website is built for real estate agents that pay to advertise themselves.  When you request information on the home you may not know how many calls you will get and from what agents.   


Realtor.com, they are owned by Move Inc. and is licensed and operated by the National Association of Realtors.  

Pros:

  • Realtor.com is said to update and pull any information from the multiple listing service every 15 minutes providing the most current data to buyers.  
  • They also have a feature called “My Home” where you can track everything about your home valuation, equity, and mortgage.  
  • They have a great filter for searches to really narrow down to the amenities and features you want in a home
  • Since the site is owned by Move Inc.  You can make moving arrangements.  

Cons:

  • Even though you can narrow down the features.  If you are looking for a lot of details on the home the “Property Features” is very sparse.  They want you to email the agent to find out more about the property. 
  • The website again is built for real estate agents that pay to advertise themselves.  When you request information on the home you may not know how many calls you will get and from what agents.   


HomeSnap

Pros

  • You hear about the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that real estate agents use and HomeSnap is connected directly to our Omaha MLS.
  • Sold data is accurate since it’s generated from the MLS.
  • You can collaborate with your real estate agent with integrated messaging in the app

Cons

  • The feature filter is not as robust as Realtor.com
  • Not as well known since it’s not built as a lead generation website for real estate agents


We could discuss other websites like Homes.com, HomeFinder.com, plus each real estate brokerage has its own home search available.  There is not a lack of options. 

There isn’t a right or wrong website to use for the search for your next home.  Most sites have all the information you need including property details, county information, nearby schools, mortgage calculator and more.  Just like anything you should pick what feels most comfortable to use. 

You just need to be aware that no matter the website it may not always be the most current information or so much information it can get overwhelming.    

It’s more important to have an open and clear line of communication with your agent.  It’s defining your ideal home and then tailoring the home finding process that fits your plans.


Justin Brown

Twin Two

Twin one reminds him of this title often. In college, Justin didn't know what direction he wanted to go with his career until taking a real estate principal and practices class. This opened up a new world for him which lead to a real estate and marketing degree and his first professional career as a commercial real estate analyst. This turned into a 14-year career and he gained a tremendous amount of knowledge into commercial real estate within the Omaha area. Since 2004 he loved to analyze properties and built up his real estate investment portfolio. In 2014 he saw the light and joined his brother Jay at BHHS Ambassador Real Estate bringing his commercial and investment background as a great asset to their clients. Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his two daughters and wife, enjoying the outdoors and exploring the city.

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