Shopping for a home used to be both stressful and time-consuming – looking through countless listings in the newspaper, driving around neighborhoods looking at for-sale signs and houses, carving out time for showings, and more. But today you can do most of that online, in the early stages at least. In fact, nearly half of all buyers began their search online. Still, there are disadvantages to house hunting online and some definite pitfalls. So here’s what you can and cannot determine by searching for homes online in Los Angeles.
Advantages of Searching for Homes Online
With the explosion of online real estate listings in the last few years, the way we search for homes has been radically altered. Now, with just a few clicks, you can, according to U.S.News, “find the sales price of the home next door, search for listings, in a given school zone and take virtual tours of homes you’re interested in.” So there are indeed several advantages to searching for homes online in Los Angeles, especially with respect to convenience, time savings, and what you can easily determine without wasting gas, for example:
Formerly, searching for a new home was often accompanied by a good amount of disappoint. After spending time reading ads and driving around, buyers would often be disappointed on finally touring a home because it wasn’t what they thought it would be after all. But searching online can eliminate a lot of that disappointment because of the many high-quality listing photos available. You can determine early on whether the home is really what you’re looking for. In fact, among the buyers who conducted their searches online, 87% reported the photos as being very helpful, and 84% found detailed information about the property useful.
Searching for homes online is also advantageous because you can easily peruse numerous listings. With the ability to view all these listings with their photos, you will be likely to determine which ones meet your criteria and which ones don’t.
IMMEDIATE PRICING DATA
Besides the asking price right in front you (instead of buried in the listing somewhere), you will also have all the other pertinent pricing data easily available when searching for homes online in Los Angeles. You will, then, be able to determine your offer fairly accurately. You can do some easy appraisal research on your own by comparing the online listing to those for comparable homes in the immediate area.
A real estate agent can definitely be an asset and an ally in your search for a home. She can even help you avoid making an enormously costly mistake. Still, involving someone else in the process means added effort, time, and inconvenience. When searching for homes online yourself, you cut out the middleman and don’t have to go through all the inherent communication hassles because you can deal directly with the buyer.
Disadvantages and What You Cannot Determine Searching Online
Online real estate listings are still largely unregulated, so pretty much anything goes. Following are a few of the reasons why can’t always determine your dream home using online sources:
Online listings aren’t always updated the way they should be. It might turn out, then, that after you spend time searching and thinking and comparing, the house is already sold. Agents sometimes forget to remove listings, and sometimes it is just an unscrupulous rogue site.
NOT EVEN FOR SALE
Occasionally, it happens when you’re searching for homes online in Los Angeles that the property you’re considering isn’t even for sale. There are shady link farms out there that aggregate sold listings simply to generate more traffic.
NOT A GOOD FIT
You also can’t really determine, when searching for homes online, whether the home is a good fit and meets all your criteria, especially with respect to transaction needs. If, for example, you need to close within 30 days, a short sale wouldn’t be for you – and the listing may not indicate the short sale status.
With no governing body policing online listings, they may not be all that accurate. Usually, an incorrect description is due simply to human error, but sometimes it is the result of a direct effort to mislead. So that two-bath home that really caught your eye may actually have only one bath or may even be in a different city than advertised.
So for convenience, yes, searching for homes online is a great way to go. But the fact remains that there are many things you cannot determine or at least can’t determine accurately by searching online yourself. That is why you need the services of a good agent: to avoid wasting time and being disappointed and to avoid a huge, costly mistake.