The housing market is booming, and there aren’t any signs of it slowing down anytime soon. The best online home buying sites can help you navigate this crazy market and find your dream home in no time.
The best home buying sites should have a database consisting of millions of properties that you can sort through. A large database indicates a successful home buying website. Investors, real estate agents and private sellers may look to list their properties on sites with a track record of success, as signified by a large volume of available properties. Plus, the more properties you see, the more likely it is to secure financing and close on a home.
When considering the top home buying websites, there are few standard characteristics to look for:
· Size of the database
· Filters and sorting options
· Mobile compatibility
· Financing capability
Zillow is one of the top home buying sites because it has one of the largest databases in the world. There are more than 135 million properties listed on the site, so you can be sure to find a wide array of properties that fit your needs and budget.
Realtor.com is another great home buying website with a large database. More than 99 percent of all MLS-listed properties are available on the website, which is affiliated with the National Association of Realtors and linked to over 580 regional Multiple Listing Services (MLS).
All good websites for buying houses should allow you to make your search as easy as possible. While having a large database is a good thing, it can lead to endless scrolling and thousands of properties that do not fit your needs. That’s where filters and sorting features come into play.
Most prospective homebuyers have a general idea of what they are looking for in a home, such as a minimum number of bedrooms or bathrooms, specific features like a garage or particular type of home. By applying filters, you can narrow your search to reveal only those homes that fit your criteria.
Some of the most common and easy-to-use filters on these real estate websites include the following:
· Location – you can narrow your search to find houses within a specific city, town, zip code or neighborhood
· Size – you may only be interested in houses of a particular square footage
· Price – this is one of the most widely-used filters among homebuyers, as it helps ensure you stick to your budget
· Type – many top home buying sites allow you to narrow your results by type of property, such as a single-family home, condo or multi-family home
Trulia is one of the best online home buying sites when it comes to filters and user friendliness. The website allows you to search using dozens of filters. You can even enter specific keywords if you do not see a filter that you want to use.
If user friendliness is a priority, Homesnap is one of the best home buying sites for you. One of the coolest features of this app is its ability to provide information about a home just from a quick photo. All you need to do is snap a picture of a home that you are interested in, and the app will identify the property and pull information from public records.
If you are moving to a new place, you can use the Trulia Crime Map to get a better feel for the area. The map highlights recently documented crime across a given area. Trulia also has several other maps you can use during your search, such as:
· Schools – you can view the ratings of all schools in the area.
· Shop and eat – sort through local cafes, restaurants and grocery stores.
· People stats – view the demographic information about a given area, including median age, household income and marriage status.
If you’re like most people, you believe that all good websites for buying houses should offer a mobile-friendly app. Real estate apps let you search for your next home no matter where you are. These apps typically offer all the same features as the websites, and some may even offer app-specific benefits.
Aside from being one of the top home buying sites, Zillow is one of the most-downloaded real estate apps. One of the best features of the app is its 3D Home tours, which give you a virtual walkthrough of a home. This feature is still new, so it may not be available for all listings.
But what about a website that serves as an all-in-one home buying pit stop? Some of the best online home buying sites make it easy to not only find a home but apply for financing and get approved right on the same page.
For example, Zillow and Trulia both provide links to get preapproved for financing through partnered lenders. This eliminates the stress of searching for mortgage lenders on your own, which can be a complex (and oftentimes confusing) process. If you are preapproved and the terms work for your budget, you can initiate the purchase process right through the website.
Most apps and websites focus on properties listed by real estate agents. However, HomeFinder is one of the best home buying sites for homebuyers interested in finding homes listed for sale by owner, or FSBO. The for sale by owner filter displays one of the largest databases of homes listed by owners, not real estate companies. The benefits of purchasing a house listed by an owner are plentiful, such as eliminating the middleman (i.e. the real estate agent) and reducing closing costs.
While other real estate websites may offer a similar feature, none are as expansive as HomeFinder. In fact, there are plenty of homes listed FSBO on HomeFinder that are not listed anywhere else, giving your priority access to these homes. In a market as hot as this one, that priority could mean the difference between closing on a house or entering into a bidding war with other prospective buyers.