If you’ve ever been on the hunt for a new home, or even sought out accurate estimates as you consider selling one, you know how confusing the internet can make things. It’s a wonderful tool, certainly, but it’s also a place with a lot of room for competing opinions! That’s why it’s really always best to consult a realtor for the most accurate and updated statistics, prices, and advice. Still, we know many tentative searches begin with online deep dives, so here are our picks for the best home buying sites you can browse!
If accuracy is what matters most to you, realtor.com is your site! Its tried-and-true database is known to have the most on-point and quickly updated prices. It is actually affiliated with the National Association of Realtors, making it a preference for many realtors.
If you plan to do some of your own searching alongside the work your agent is doing, they will probably advise you to start here! And if you don’t have a realtor yet, this is another reason to love realtor.com. Unlike many other sites, its “find a realtor” function is just as powerful as the one searching for the actual homes, so you can locate a local industry pro when you’re ready!
All of the above being said, there is just something about Zillow. It’s where most of us tend to naturally gravitate when we begin a home buying search, and it makes sharing homes you like with friends and family super easy! We guess it isn’t surprising given it was founded by former Microsoft executives, but when it comes to features, no other site holds a candle to Zillow. Its search parameters are also incredibly flexible, allowing you to narrow your search more quickly.
Buuut, it isn’t the most accurate! In fact, Real Estate Decoded found that in 2019, the site’s typical estimate error was $18,000 off—yikes! No matter what home buying sites you visit, you should never be taking any price estimate as fact. That can all change, and not only because of negotiation. Market conditions can shift more rapidly than you think, and here’s another interesting tidbit that influences Zillow’s estimates: They are actually a brokerage. They have their own team of salespeople, who certainly have a vested interest in getting your email because you saw an unexpectedly low estimate and decided to fill out the automated form. We aren’t making any claims here. We’re just pointing out that while Zillow may be one of the best sites to browse, owing to its interactive maps feature and robust photo catalog, you might want to take all financial info with a grain of salt.
If perusing from your cell phone is more your speed, Trulia is the perfect partner! Its mobile app is fluid and easy to use, with all of the functions you’d find on the full site.
The other way Trulia stands out is in its neighborhood analysis. Most all home buying sites include insights about school districts and average sale prices, but Trulia takes it one (or about five) steps further! For just about every area you can imagine, you can find galleries of around-town photos; lists of the most popular restaurants, cafes, nightlife, and shopping; safety and crime statistics; quotes from locals on what they love and dislike about the area; and more! It is truly an exploratory feature like none other.
For anyone who wants a little bit of digital hand-holding before they speak with an agent, Clever is the spot for you! It boasts an abundant database of blog posts and informational articles covering everything from fact-checked, step-by-step guides to the whole home buying process, to how you can get cash refunds when you buy. It really is “clever”!
Clever also has a feature that will help you compare agents and rates, giving you the power to negotiate effectively. For renters or real estate finance enthusiasts, its uncompromising rental property calculator is possibly the most detailed on the web.
One of the most complicated and frustrating aspects of home buying is timing up the perfect close with selling the home you’re still living in. Of course, there are those fortunate people who can afford to buy before they sell. But if that’s not you, Orchard was made to help.
The relatively new site advertises itself as “the modern way to buy” and backs that idea up by specializing in unlocking the equity of your existing home before you sell. Depending on how hot your market is, they’ll even turn that equity into a cash offer. You can also skip showings altogether. Yes, really! Of course, this could result in problems a more traditional realtor would have helped you avoid, and the site doesn’t service all areas. Nonetheless, for the busy, no-frills buyer, Orchard is a revolutionary new prospect worth exploring!
Whichever home buying sites you decide to utilize, always keep in mind that none should replace the help of a practiced realtor!
To chat with our realtors, give us a call at 912.800.1885. Or, explore our own little corner of home listings!