Over the last few months, Ryan and I found ourselves consumed with the process of buying our first home. Home-buying can be a daunting experience, there’s no doubt about that, but it becomes a little less daunting with the help of the Internet. As you might expect, we dug up as many resources as possible and found that some were better than others. If you are in the process of buying a house, take a look at our list of the best home buying websites and resources on the web:
Zillow (click here):
Zillow can be overwhelming because their goal is to be your number one online real estate service. They offer all kinds of tools and information, but one of their best features that we found is their “Zestimate.” A Zetimate is their best educated guess as to what a house is worth based upon several factors. This is extremely helpful when you’re buying a house because it helps your determine if the price a seller is asking is reasonable, or at least in the ball-park. Of course it’s important to remember that it is just an estimate.
Another helpful aspect to this site is that they offer “last sale” and tax information for many houses. The “last sale” information, if available, tells you how much the house last sold for. Property tax information is also helpful. Depending on the area, property taxes can make or break your decision to buy a home. It’s nice to have it in one location so that you don’t have to go and track it down.
Redfin (click here):
Redfin is a fairly new service and the disappointing part about all of this is that their service isn’t offered everywhere quite yet. In fact, it’s pretty limiting with service currently offered in the following areas: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.
If you’re one of the lucky ones and live in a serviced area, you’ll really find their site helpful. One of the first things we noticed with Redfin is that they tend to post listings before other sites do. Shortly after a house was listed on the MLS (multiple listing service – a US based service that consolidates listings of homes), it appeared on Redfin.
Another feature we took advantage of was signing up for a Redfin account. Doing this allowed us to get daily listing updates, and save and store the listings we found that we were interested in.
There’s a whole other aspect to this site that we never got involved in which is using a “Redfin Agent.” They offer you money if you choose to purchase a home with one of their agents, but we never took this route.
Trulia (click here):
Trulia is helpful, partially because they have a full-service website, but also an iPhone App. The most helpful features we found with Trulia is that they make it easy for you to view homes where the prices have recently dropped, and those that have scheduled upcoming open houses. For any particular city you are looking to buy in, they let you know what the average listing price was from week to week.
Have a website you found helpful when purchasing a price? Perhaps a site that caters to countries other than the United States? Let us know…