You’ve got your mortgage pre-approval, you know what you can afford, and so it’s time to get serious and find that dream home. There’s so much out there and sometimes it can be overwhelming sifting through the local mls listings to find a home worth viewing. Searching for a home can be very time consuming if you don’t take advantage of all the tools available to you. It’s hard to know where to start if you haven’t had conversations with the right people.

Let’s explore some of the most common ways home buyers search for properties.

Some home buyers start out by driving in an area they desire on a Saturday or Sunday to see if there are any open houses. They drop in, find out some of the most critical elements like the price or number of bedrooms, and have a look around. In most cases, the price is way off from what they want to spend or there just aren’t enough bedrooms for their needs. As a result, they leave and move onto the next. A Home buyer could spend all day doing this and not find one house that fits their criteria. It’s also very likely that even if they do find a home that fits their needs, it’s just simply not to their liking due to layout or some other factor. This process is very time consuming and very inefficient.

There must be a better way…and there is. Let’s take a look.

It’s no secret that most home buyers start online. There’s a plethora of information available and so naturally is a great place to start the browsing process. If you have a good idea of what and where you are looking, you can input your search criteria and browse the local mls listings. You can search by area, price range, # of bedrooms/bathrooms and more. By starting this way you can also develop a good sense of what your money can get you in today’s real estate market. Previewing the homes online can save you a lot of time and frustration as opposed to our previous example of the Sunday driver. Better yet, you can see if there are any open houses on the weekend and go take a look. Knowing that the property meets your criteria ahead of time doesn’t make your day a total waste of time. You can read our article on “How to approach open houses” to get some useful tips on what to do when you get there.

As good as this method is, there are some drawbacks. This process does limit the home buyer to having to wait for an open house to happen in order to see the home. Also, a home may never have an open house or it sells before an open house occurs. Calling up all the agents for each listing can be quite a juggling act as well. Setting up times to view, getting all the information, it’s a lot of work.

Searching daily or weekly to see if there are any new properties on the market is also quite time consuming. Checking regularly becomes a necessity so that you don’t miss out on any new properties that may be your dream home. Have you ever driven by a property only to see a sold sticker before you even knew it was up for sale? It’s definitely a frustrating situation and you can only wonder, “How can this be?”.

Again, there is a better way.

If you have tried any of the above and are still looking for the best way to make the most use of your time then acquiring the services of a Realtor is your answer. A good Realtor will set you up with all the tools and information necessary to locate your dream home.

Once you have figured out the important requirements for your next home, such as price, # of bedrooms/bathrooms, location…etc. they can set you up on a system that will email you all of the properties that fit that criteria. Depending on the system available, you would likely receive an email with a link to a mini-website containing all of these properties. You can then browse them at your own convenience and not worry about missing a property, because as time goes on, the system will notify you if a new property has come on the market. You would no longer have to check mls on a daily basis, you just click the link when you receive a notification. Even better, most of these tools have “decline” features so you can filter out the properties you don’t like. How’s that for saving precious time?

It’s also important to note that even if you are months away from starting to view properties, you should get access to this tool to educate yourself over a long period on how the market is acting in terms of availability of properties and price. This will help you plan ahead when it comes time to get more serious.

Your Realtor will take care of setting up all of the appointments to view the homes. Just let him/her know what houses you wish to see at the times most convenient for you. This gives you the greatest advantage as you wouldn’t have to wait for an open house, if it ever happens, giving you the ability to see the home(s) before many others and allowing you to move on it quicker if you want. You will also make the best use of your time by being able to see multiple properties on the same day in a much shorter span of time. With each property you see, your Realtor will be able to point out potential issues, pricing opinions and advice on aspects of the property you may not normally think of. This whole process will give you greater knowledge and confidence on what to look for in a property. This way, when the time comes, the decision to make a move will be much easier.

A blog helping people understand more about Real Estate in Ontario and Canada

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