Buying a house in Alexandria – Step Five

Search of houses on-line, narrow the search

From Buying a house in Alexandria – Overview

First, let’s talk about website search engines options for – the good news is there is a multitude of options and the bad news? there is a multitude of options.

The sites all look different, but surely the information is the same, or is it?

The origin of ALL on-line real estate information comes from the Multiple Listing Service, better known as the MLS. Which is the repository of homes for sale information uploaded by the listing broker. These hubs are usually private companies that compile the information from the  Brokerage companies that subscribe to the MLS. Almost all brokers (99.5%) submit their new listing information to their local MLS chapter who then distributes the data to large Syndication Sites such as Zillow,, and many others.

All these syndication sites look different, but the information is generated from the same starting point, and a few sites include additional information they receive from tax records as well as other resources. Depending on the service they subscribe to the MLS information may or may NOT be current at the time you view it online, creating not only confusion for the purchaser but also wastes your time. I’ve lost count of how many buyers call me about a property they saw on Zillow that is no longer available. They feel disillusioned and frustrated for the most part.

My best advice is DO NOT search on any of those sites. Search on your realtor’s own website. If they have a good website they would have included a search function as well that is linked to the MLS by the form of IDX services providers. This  will give you updated information.

Now let’s talk about what information/data you can find Searching for homes on-line.

Photographs:  A few have exceptional photographs which will make a house look incredible good even though it might not be the best fit for you, while others might not have the best of pictures but might be the absolute best house for you.  A picture is not always worth a thousand words.

Location: The price of a house is mainly based on its location and secondarily, on its condition. When you look online you will first be looking at many different areas and will notice the prices varying a lot from neighborhood to neighborhood. At this point, you will be comparing apples to oranges. Your main goal initially is to see what is available at your (pre-qualified) price point which is good because you want to know what you can afford and where.

Price: For example, If you are qualified to spend a maximum of $500,000 I would look at homes at slightly HIGHER as well, say 10% either side of your target. This is a good approach for several reasons: A) your perception of what you can buy for $500K might not match your wishlist, B) until you get your lenders specific monthly payment numbers you won’t know what you can practically afford, you may have more wiggle room, and you might be able to stretch a little to get “must haves”, D) In some instances homes are overpriced, once you find one you like we can do more research and see if that is the case, we can negotiate to get that price closer to market value.

Best thing to do at this point is NARROW DOWN your search to your Preferred LOCATIONS then based on the location and to your Maximum allowed BUDGET. Once you have these two create a “Saved Search” on your realtors website and start to look watch market movements. This approach will save you a lot of time and potential heartache. Concentrate on the areas you like within your budget and proceed to Step Six, going to open houses

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