However, relying on the Internet for property searches is a little like only using a GPS for your driving. Technology can be a dangerous crutch.
Just as an expensive GPS system can lead you astray and cost you valuable time. Relying only on your own Internet searches can add to the frustration of looking for a new home.
I have had two recent clients come to me with local properties which they found on the Internet. They were confident that these properties met their needs.
Unless seeing a property is dangerous, I don't mind taking someone to see property which i suspect will not meet their needs. Often defining what you do not like is the first step to figuring out what you do like.
I usually let property speak for itself. I try to present property in a balanced light explaining both the positive points that I see and any issues that I suspect might crop up.
Both sets of clients quickly eliminated the property they had found on the Internet in favor I property that I found for them.
There are lots of poorly photographed homes on the Internet, but even a poor photograph can cover a world of issues.
Some local expertise even if it does not come from me is almost always invaluable.
My recommendation rarely changes. It you can afford it, rent until you figure out where you would like to be.
If you cannot rent, make multiple trips to the area. Make sure at least one trip is during less than stellar weather.
Try to imagine yourself going through your daily routines. Give up on your shyness and talk to the neighbors. Find out what the neighborhood issues are before you move.
Don't be surprised if what you find on the Internet sold a year or two ago or has been taken off the market for a month or two.
If possible take your time look at enough properties so you can make an informed decsion. Remember it is much easier to buy than sell. Do not be afraid to interview Realtors®. Would you start going to a new doctor without checking him out? You can tell a Realtor® up front that you would like to interview a couple of others before deciding who can help you best.
My personal rule is that I will spent a couple of hours driving someone around and showing them neighborhoods. However, after that point, we have to agree to work together. I will ask for a signed exclusive agency agreement the second time people get in my car. However, I will let people cancel it if they later decide they would rather work with someone else.
Just using sites you can access on the Internet for a property search and ignoring other resources like Realtors® is a good way to waste a lot of time.
A client recently brought me a listing they wanted to see. The listing actually sold in the summer of 2007. It has not been back on the market.
Another client was disappointed that a property they wanted to see after an Internet search had actually been taken off the market. I called the agent with the most recent listing, and she agreed to call the owners and put a lock box on the property.
Take a balanced approach to finding your home. Use the Internet, some common sense, and a local Realtor® if you want to have access to the best properties.
Ignoring local expertise will likely cost you time and money.