Not having a real estate agent at the moment (we now have one 🙂 )we’ve resorted to using some online tools for looking for houses. Below are the ones we have used thus far along with some comments as to our experience.
Overall Experience: Great place to get ideas for prices in certain neighborhoods and how many houses are for sale. Easy to use and very interactive. It’s also interesting to see what houses have sold for in the past.
Pros: Easy to use, interactive maps for neighborhoods (ability to focus on certain areas of the map), and I was able to get the results I wanted using the many different fields for defining your search.
Cons: It was easy to use but loading can sometimes be an issue. Navigation back and for from page to page can also be a little clunky.
Overall Experience: Awesome! This was a great tool when we were out and about driving around without any direction. Very often there were houses for sale but there was not a flyer available. With this app we were able to quickly load it and find out the house price using the GPS. I would estimate that greater than 75% of the time the house was listed at the time. However, the status of the house was not always correct as in, the house could have sold recently but the Zillow database was not yet updated.
Pros: Utilizes GPS to find your current location. Same type of interface and options as the website. Easy to use and would recommend for those random house hunts.
Cons: There were numerous times that I got frustrated because the app doesn’t save your search criteria or settings when closing the app. (I may have missed this in the settings if it were available)…
Various Realty Websites
Overall Experience: More often than not, we were able to find all the same houses on all the realty websites. The kicker was that each interface was a different experience.
- Allow multiple zip codes, cities, or neighborhood queries. There were times when we were limited to looking at one area at a time.
- Cleanup the layout of some of the content. Some content was squished together, especially when maps were involved. If possible, make the the layout a little wider, open up in a modal window, new window, etc.
- Better integration of maps. I would say 80% of the time I found it easier to copy the address into Google Maps to see the street view of the house than to use the map that was integrated into the website. If you are going to offer maps I would suggest using both Bing and Google Maps. Bing has an awesome aerial view compared to Google Maps. However, Google Maps has street view.
Overall Experience: This is probably my favorite choice! MLS Online has a some really great search options, easy to use, and gives you a ton of results.
Pros: Extremely easy to use. Email notifications for new houses that meet your criteria (if you set it up). Detailed house information and a clean layout. Ability to save multiple search criterion. Added the ability to search for foreclosures.
Cons: Does not provide the # of days on the market.
Sorry for the novel. Hope this helps the fellow house hunters out there or even the developers for the above sites.