So maybe you aren’t able to leave the house to shop for a new home, or you’re really far from the area you wish to buy. The good news is, you’ve got a great and easy option at your fingertips. You can actually shop for a home from the comfort of your own couch.
With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, this is clearly the best choice out there. For many people, it is the only choice. Realtor.com ventured out to ask those who are actively searching for a home how they felt about the market, given the state of the country. According to the study, nearly half (48 percent) reported either somewhat or much more optimism about buying a home while only 11 percent reported feeling either somewhat or much less optimistic about buying a home.
It is likely that both the federal rate cuts and the dropped mortgage rates are contributing to this optimism. That means it’s really important to understand how to properly conduct an online search for houses so that those looking do not miss this opportunity. So where should you start?
#1 Choose A Property Search Site
This is a great place to start because you can do a few searches in your area to give you a loose idea of what is available. You are also able to start to get a feel for what it is you like in a home and what it is that you do not. What are your non-negotiables? Is what you are looking for in your projected price point?
We have a lot of options out there in terms of real estate search sites. It’s a good idea to choose one to rely on mostly and then cross-reference that site with the others you deem worthy. This will allow you to set up filters and register so that you are notified as soon as a new home is listed or goes pending.
#2 Find a Local Agent to Team Up With
Even though you might feel like you can do this all on your own given the resources on the internet, it is still important to enlist the help of a local agent. An experienced real estate agent brings important local knowledge to your search. No one knows the ins and outs of specific streets, cities, and school districts the way a well-informed real estate professional does.
Furthermore, property search sites have a ton of resources but they do not compare to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is a resource available only to licensed real estate agents. This platform has more accurate information as well as non-public information relevant to the agent and their buyer. Sites like Zillow may have up to 90 fields of information about a property but the average MLS listing can have over 200.
Once you speak with your agent, which can be done virtually, he or she can set up a search for you with the MLS and email you listings that are in your field of interest. They can also be a second source of reference when you find a property you like on a public property search site.
#3 Secure Your Finances
If you are like most Americans you will be needing to get a mortgage approval. The first step to getting a mortgage is to find a lender. This oftentimes can be suggested by your real estate agent. You will want to find a lender who will allow you to submit documents and sign agreements over the internet.
It is a good idea to gain a mortgage preapproval letter to tell you how much money you can expect to get for your loan. This rough idea will let you and your agent know what you can afford. This will also let sellers know that you are serious.
Your lender will likely ask you to have a few important things on hand in terms of financial documentation:
- At least 2 months of bank statements
- Your last two W-2s
- Your two most recent pay stubs
#4 Submit Your Offer
Once you find a home that fits, you will need to submit an offer letter. This will inform the seller that you’d like to buy their house and what conditions you would like to do that under. While you are able to write one on your own, it is best to work with your real estate agent and let them handle this for you. He or she knows best how to communicate in a way that serves your best interest.
Your seller can either accept, reject, or counteroffer. This negotiation process can feel stressful and emotional so make sure you regularly check in with your agent for advice and try to stay calm.
#5 Conduct Closing Process
Once you reach an agreement the closing process will begin. You will need to schedule an appraisal and a home inspection. An appraisal is a professional estimate of the worth of your home. This is what the mortgage company will use to determine what they are loaning you is the right amount.
The inspection will tell you what needs to be repaired in your home. This is particularly important for online home buying. Ask your agent to forward inspection results to you via email and review them before closing.
Your lender will then send you a closing document listing the final terms of your loan. Your overall online closing process tends to vary from lender to lender. You’ll need to consult with this specific lender to learn how you will finalize your sale and obtain your keys.