4 House House Hunting Tips You Need To Know

House Hunting TipsYou finally decided to take the plunge and buy a house. You’ve gotten pre-approved, chosen an agent to work with, and are ready to start your search. Since most people start their home search online, here are 4 house hunting tips you need to know. 

  1. Don’t pay for listings. If a website is asking you to pay for listings, it isn’t worth your time or money. There are many sites out there advertising exclusive listings, but most of them are a scam. Don’t give them your credit card. Any house that is actually for sale can be found for free on Realtor.com, Trulia or Zillow just to name a few.

  2. Don’t believe everything you read. I had someone call me about one of my listings. She said she read on a website that the house was in foreclosure. I told her it wasn’t. I asked her what website she was looking at- it was a pay for site that I’ve never heard of. She then got angry with me because she insisted the website is very accurate and the house is in foreclosure and therefore I didn’t know what I was saying. Long story short, don’t believe everything you read online.

  3. House Hunting TipsUnderstand the Active, Pending and Contingent status. You find the perfect house, call your Realtor, and they tell you it is pending. Save yourself some time and frustration and find the “Status” field. When you look at the websites, they will tell you somewhere what the status of the property is. Some have that information buried under details, some have it on the first page. If it says Active, it means the home is probably available and open to offers. If it says Pending, Contingent, or Active – Contingent on Financing, it means the house has an accepted offer. There really isn’t any reason to waste your time to pursue these further. But if you feel like it is the perfect house that got away and completely bummed, then talk with your Realtor about the possibility of writing a back-up offer. (But please don’t ask your Realtor about this for every house you run across- it’s time consuming!)

  4. Pre-foreclosure and Auction. Many websites have started posting properties that are supposedly in pre-foreclosure or up for auction. Unless you are a seasoned investor and know your way around the court system and real estate law, stay away. Pre-foreclosure means that the bank has started foreclosure proceedings, but the owner still owns the house and has the right to catch up financially or sell the house, typically at a loss (short sale). An auction is usually referring to the sheriff’s sale that still gives the owners the right to live in the house for six months. If you buy the house at a sheriff’s sale, you don’t own the house. You own the note on the house, which means you are now the bank and will be required to complete the foreclosure process, the eviction process, and deal with whatever legal and outstanding fees (taxes, water/sewer bills, etc.) that come with it.

  5. jackson-mi-school-district home searchBonus Tip: How To Search By School District. Most national websites don’t have the ability for you to search by your preferred school district. Usually the best you can do is search by zip code. If you want to search by school district, then you will need to find a website that is hyper local. Stay away from the national websites, they are just too big. If you’re searching in the Mid-Michigan area, you can search by school district here.

These are just some of the house hunting tips you should know when navigating your home search online. Make sure you are working with a trusted Realtor who can help guide you through some of these more difficult situations, or help you understand why you need to avoid them. But the safest way to do a home search is through using websites that feed directly from the Multiple Listing Service such as ProductionRealty.com.  We are here to help!