House Hunt the Right Way

Hint: It’s not on Zillow.

Throughout my time in real estate, I have realized that a lot of people do not know how to properly search for a home.

Blindly scrolling through Zillow can be a fun time, but in many instances, people fail to notice major items and vital information. Learning better strategies can save you thousands and help to ensure you don’t end up with a house that doesn’t fit your needs.

If you’re in the market for a new property in 2023, you should know this before jumping into your house hunt:

1. Necessary evils

MLS (multiple listing services) are the best way to search for properties. Their UI is ridiculously outdated, but the information is updated and reliable. Platforms like Redfin and Zillow are great, but oftentimes the information they have is not accurate. Using or referencing MLS is important to ensure that you don’t waste time on a property that is no longer available.

Your Realtor should be able to provide you with a portal to access the MLS in your area.

2. Diamonds in the rough

The majority of people skip ‘bad’ listings that don’t have photos or that have super blurry or poorly taken images.

Instead, take the time to look further into these and determine if they fit your needs. You will likely need to visit the property or reach out to request some photos. Often, these houses are strong opportunities but have been handicapped by a careless agent.

Most people will not give these listings a second thought, so use that lack of interest to your advantage. I have gotten a great deal on properties like this several times.

Sorting to find properties with a long time on the market can garner similar results. A lot of these houses are great, but changing market conditions or mistakes made by the listing agent (pricing too high initially, lack of marketing, etc.) burned their time on the market.

The reduced traction can translate to a great deal for you.

These houses will require a little bit of extra diligence, as some are stuck on the market for a good reason. Be sure to visit the property and…

3. Review disclosures

Do your due diligence! The amount/ways a seller must disclose information varies from state to state, so you may need to do some research.

In Texas, a seller of a single-family residence must disclose everything they know about the condition of a property prior to the sale in a document called the Seller’s Disclosure Notice.

This includes information on what is present in the home, known defects, any outstanding liens or lawsuits, unpermitted additions, and any other notable items within the home.

Vital big-ticket items to check on are the roof, HVAC, and foundation. If information is not disclosed on these items, ask your Realtor to reach out to ask. These are all very expensive to replace or fix, so be sure that they are newer or in good condition before entering into a contract.

If they have warranties for items like foundation or termites, this is also great information to have. Be sure that they are transferable and if so, see if there are any fees associated with the transfer.

A good listing agent will advertise major updates such as a brand new roof, but many don’t – which is literally leaving money on the table.

Getting this information can help you weed out houses that have a lot of outstanding issues or make a house with many updates a stronger contender.

A good realtor should do most of this for you, but many don’t. This is why it is so important to be in the know before entering this process. I go further in-depth on the entire home vetting process on my YouTube channel (TheInvestory), so check out that video or reach out to me here if you’d like further information on how to identify a good property and avoid the mistakes many buyers make when purchasing.