What to Look for When Searching for a Home Online

May 23, 2019
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The most common first step home buyers take when looking for a property is to search online. Before the internet, Realtors were the gatekeepers of real estate listings, with printed copies or listings not allowed to leave their offices.

Now, the general starting point for buyers is to head online and look at listings in their desired area. When looking for a property in Whistler there are a huge number of websites you might find yourself on, from listing aggregation sites, to brokers, and individual agents. With so many options and so much information it’s important to know exactly how to search and what to look for.

We’ve put together some tips to get you started on your online real estate journey:

Know what sites to look on

With so many websites offering so much information it’s important to know where you’re looking and where you’re getting your information from.

There are a number of Multiple Listing Service websites that are the most common starting point for prospective buyers, but you should remember that each listing is also tied to a specific Realtor as well.

In general we would advise avoiding sites such as Kijiji or Craigslist when other multiple listing sites offer a far better user experience. You will also find yourself on Broker websites. These sites are managed by Whistler Real Estate Brokerages and show the listings of all of their agents.

Finally, the majority of Realtors will have their own websites as well. What’s important to note is that not all of these sites show all of the available listings and it’s always best to find a Realtor first and start your real estate journey with them. This way you will have access to every possible property, including listings before they go live on the MLS.

Understand how to configure your search

With so many search options available online, as a buyer you should know exactly what you’re looking for and learn how to configure your searches accordingly. Being able to effectively narrow down your search means that you can filter out all the clutter and just focus on properties that are relevant to you.

The most common mistake buyers make is restricting the search settings too much. As an example, if your budget for a Whistler property is $900,000, then you will most likely be inclined to use that number to cap your search. However, it’s important to remember that a property listed at $950,000 could potentially be purchased for $900,000.

Conversely, many buyers may also find themselves wasting time by looking at homes outside of their price range. While luxury homes are generally pleasing to look at, if you are serious about looking for a property they are now more than a distraction.

Deciphering photos

Photography is one of the first things you notice when looking at listings online and you’ll soon realize that not all photos are the same! There tends to be a huge range in picture quality when viewing properties.

Some Realtors will go to the effort to hire professional photography to make their listings really stand out from the crowd and showcase the home in the best possible light, and others may just use old images or phone pictures. 

There are things to be aware of in both of these cases. With high end photography there are some tricks of the trade that will make a property look better online than in real life. The most common is using a wide-angle lens to make even the smallest spaces appear large.

On the other side, poor quality pictures can be off-putting and mean that you immediately discount a property. However, sometimes this can be a good opportunity. Just because a property has terrible images, doesn’t mean you should pass on it and we often encourage buyers to view homes with bad images as there tends to be fewer competition. 

Interpreting data

With access to so much information buyers are now more educated that ever. However, you should always be sure to consult an expert as it’s very easy to misinterpret data. Similarly, just because an agent’s website is showcasing a certain type of listing or information doesn’t make them an expert in that area. So always be sure to conduct your own external research.

For more information on buying a property in Whistler, get in touch with one of our local experts.

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