The Internet is Great for Real Estate
What's the greatest about the Internet? Is it that there is so much information available? You can find information about just about anything you can imagine. The internet is especially useful for looking up information about real estate.
You can look up everything from land records to how and why to buy property. You can even look up prices on most MLS listings and get up to date changes and complete information about the houses for sale.
You can get information about mortgages, from what kind of mortgage, might be best for you to mortgage calculators which can tell you everything from what your payments should be to how much you can afford and what kind of mortgage you might be able to qualify for.
You can get information about neighborhoods, real estate agents, home builders even find sites that will give you a value for your house. I have yet to see one of these that is particularly accurate. If I wanted to know what my house was worth I'd ask a local agent, preferably one who's made a lot of sales in the area and understand the variables that affect price.
As you're looking at listings, you type in different search parameters, fitting different types of houses or different communities, trying to find the home that fits you best.
It takes a lot of time, especially if you're not real familiar with how to get the best result. That's where a real estate agent comes in handy. An agent understands how the MLS is laid out. Not only that but they get paid to be familiar with as many houses, prices and values as possible.
Real estate agents are like doctors for your real estate needs. It's their job to understand everything that might affect your home purchase. It's their job to make sure you get a mortgage you can afford. It's their job to make sure all the permits, tests, title problems and truth in lending are taken care of, so that when you move into your house you'll know exactly what to expect.
You click and scroll until you find yourself looking at the same property on website after website. Not all the listings have photos, so you skip by those. The online listings you like most have LOTS of photos - the view of each room, the view out the front window, the view of the back and front of the property, and so on.
After a while, you begin to skip the "virtual tours" because they are so SLOW that they bore you. Clicking on pictures is so much faster. Talking to a real estate agent who's actually been out and looked at the houses inside and out and knows what the values are in the neighborhood, knows exactly what they're seeing and how it afffects your purchase.
At some point, you want to know "more."
What if it's a property in a community you don't know anything about or it is a property clear across the country, but you are genuinely interested in getting more information about that particular home. Is it better to look it up on the internet or find an agent who can really tell you more about it.
Like any group of professionals there are some real estate agents who are better than others. Believe it or not, a lot of real estate agents still are't that adept at what they do. You want an agent whoreally knows what they're doing. There's nothing like getting a TAXI DRIVER instead of an agent.
What I like to call a TAXI DRIVER is an agent who takes people out and drives them all over the town and sometimes even surrounding towns, looking at every house they can think of. These agents waist a lot of their time and yours, instead of getting a good idea of what you really want, what you can afford and how to best find it for you.
You want an agent who will spend time at the onset, finding out exactly what you're looking for, then go out and find it for you. Ask around, find out who the best agents are. If you don't know someone, ask a few borkers in the area you want to buy or sell in. They can tell you who sells the most houses and those are the best agents.
If nothing else see who has a lot of listings, that's a start. They have to know something about the area and spend a lot of time out there to get those listings. People don't just call up and ask for a real estate agent to come list their house, at least not very often. They either do research or go to an agent who has communicated with them, either in person or through advertising.
As a result, if you were to look at several different real estate sites (like our web-savvy friend did) you may find that multiple sites will display the listing, but one may have no photos, one site may have one photo, and another site will display multiple photos.
You may have skipped something great.
Heck, a listing may not even display on the web. Or it may already be sold, but it displays as an active listing, or it may be a new listing that isn't on the web yet.
In short, the web is behind. That data isn't always current.
So yes, the web is "cool." More info is available, but there are also limitations.
Those limitations are unwelcome, but in this beginning stage of the home hunt, you still want to be independent and you enjoy that independence. The web is a good place to get started, to save you some time when you get real serious.
But after awhile, it can be frustrating, too.
What you need is a someone who respects your independence but will answer your emails and phone calls promptly, someone who can tell you more about a particular property, someone who can tell you if it is overpriced or if it is a "make-sense" purchase. Someone who can tell you when a "three bedroom home" is actually two bedrooms and a study (there is a difference). SOmeone who understands what a termite report means, how a mortgage works and where to get the best one for you.
That "mentor" is your local real estate agent.
You still get to do the "fun" part, but don't have to deal with the frustration that comes when you need more information or get ready to act. An agent is like a good family doctor, they spend enough time working with you to understand what's best for you and they have the knowledge to make sure you get it.
See the best agent for you in Katy, Texas you can find this agent in the real estate section at www.TheBestofkaty.com