Depends- are you “shopping” or “buying”?
If you are window shopping (you are not ready to visit any homes) almost any website is great. Most will allow you to search by zipcode or town and narrow your search to a particular size, room count and price range. Most display multiple photos (assuming the Realtor actually provided photos) and additional information like market statistics or comparable sold homes.
Great examples are Realtor.com, Trulia or Zillow.
The caveat, however, is that these sites are not 100% accurate and the home of your dreams might already be under contract or completely sold.
This describes anyone who is willing to buy “if” they find the right home for the right price. You have the means to buy but no real urgency.
You should pay more attention to websites run by actual agents and brokers. While the home you find might be under contract, it is less likely to be completely sold or old information.
Great examples are Redfin, Realtor.com, or your local Realtor’s website (not all Realtors have home search available. You can click here to search for Glendale or La Cañada homes)
The serious buyer needs to buy the best home possible, now. This buyer does not have time to waste on homes already under contract and, in fact, would really like to find a steller home for sale before anyone else knows about it.
Here’s where the real secret skills come into play. Identify a Realtor in your area that has a deep understanding of the internet. Your Realtor can give you access directly into the MLS and becomes your partner in developing a laser like search that will alert you the instant an ideal home hits the market.
But that’s not all.
Once you identify what the ideal house looks like, a truly internet savvy Realtor can also help you use the power of search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. There are tools that can uncover opportunities on Realtor’s blogs, Craig’s list and other offbeat places. These opportunities are not in the MLS and, therefore, not on any of the major search portals.
And it isn’t just the internet.
I spend the majority of my day talking to people about their Real Estate needs. I am trying to find ways to connect those people to my serious buyers. All. Day. Long. That’s what a professional Realtor does.
The internet allows many people to feel like they can find their home without a Realtor, and that is certainly possible. But if you are a serious buyer I urge you to find a Realtor. If you can afford a house you already have a job. Find homes is my job.