Best places to search for a home

Contributing Columnist

Question: Many buyers use the internet to become familiar with property availability and places that might meet their housing criteria. What are the best places to begin looking for a home?


Answer:  The internet is by no means a substitute for a good Realtor but it is one way to become familiar with properties, prices, and availability across the nation. The official website of the National Association of Realtors is www.realtors.com .  Listings from all real estate agencies are usually found on this website. Enter your city location or zip code and general price and size criteria and this site will give you available listings, photos and property descriptions. Information about schools and the neighborhood as well as the property history is available there. Tax information and property values of adjacent homes are mapped for easy comparison. Another website which provides similar information is www.zillow.com.  Not all real estate companies participate on this website. Checking different sites  may be useful if homes in an area are of mixed value or taxes vary widely in the same neighborhood. Teardowns and new builds often skew prices in otherwise homogeneous neighborhoods.

Other websites such as www.homes.com and www.trulia.com offer similar information, provide market trends, mortgage calculators, school reviews and mapping of the property.  Buyers may have a preference for one site or use multiple sites to gather the information they need on a particular property that falls within their criteria.

It may take a little practice to navigate the sites but for the most part, they will give both buyers and sellers advance information about property availability. Most of these websites will give an indication of the length of time properties have been on the market, pricing and sales history.

Many Real Estate companies have their own websites. These are valuable from the standpoint that they provide office locations, contact information and biographical data about sales associates, and the mission of the company. The limitation is that they list or feature the properties for sale by that company and is not representative of all the properties available in an entire area. Most search engines can direct you to company sites.

In addition, many individual Realtors have their own websites. Most of these will give you detailed background about a Realtor, featured listings they have available or have recently sold, and information about the area. These websites can be useful in that they provide a background about that Realtor’s experience and the types and locations of homes they have listed and sold. You will be able to tell if the agent has sold in your price range and in the neighborhoods of interest. A few will allow you to access the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to search for homes or condominiums. Your best bet is to find a site that provides you with all current listings.

Sheldon Paley, a resident of Longboat Key for 20 years and a realtor for 13 years, is affiliated with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. Prior to moving to Longboat Key, Paley attended Ohio State University; U of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry and Harvard Medical School for 18 months for a degree in Implantation.





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