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Buying a home is a big commitment—financially and in other ways. Searching for that home can be stressful in the best of times. During emergency times, such as the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, your options for house hunting might even be more limited than normal. Find out how to find a house online, and check out six house hunting websites to get you started.

How Do I Find a House Online?

Finding a house online can actually be fun. You and your family can search for homes in your office or even while curled in bed with a cup of your favorite warm beverage. Here are some quick tips for putting house searching websites to work for you.

  1. Know what you want. Create a list that details what you’re looking for in a home. This helps you filter out locations that simply don’t meet your needs. Some things to include on your list are price range, location or ZIP code, number of bedrooms, home style and amount of land.
  2. Divide your wants into must-haves and nice-to-haves. It’s rare to find a house that meets every single personal preference. Make sure you know what you must have—such as three bedrooms or a price that’s under $250,000—so you can concentrate on those most important filters when searching.
  3. Browse a variety of top house searching sites. Don’t stick to one site because its inventory might not be complete for what’s for sale in your area.
  4. Get preapproved. Consider getting preapproved for a mortgage to make the process easier when you’re ready to make an offer on a home. Doing so can also help you understand how much house you can afford to buy.
  5. Contact sellers or real estate agents to view the home. If you’re ready to buy and are serious about what you see online, contact the agent or seller as soon as possible. While the housing market fluctuates, you never know when someone else might jump on your dream home and buy it before you even have a chance to look at it. If you’ve been preapproved, you may have a better shot at getting the house you want when you’re ready to take this step.

What Are the Best House Hunting Websites?

There’s not a single best house hunting website. They all provide different features and information. Some might have house listings that others don’t, making it important to browse more than one when you’re on the hunt for a new home. Here are some top house searching sites to get you started.

1. Realtor.com

Realtor.com is an official site of the National Association of REALTORS, so you know it’s a credible place to start your search. You can view homes for sale or rent and even see homes that have recently been sold to understand what properties are going for in a certain area. Realtor.com provides listings that include existing homes for sale as well as new construction, and you can take advantage of articles and checklists that provide education for buying a home.

2. Homefinder.com

This site provides a variety of listings that you can easily sort by location, price range or type. You can also search off-market properties—those that aren’t actively listed for sale—to find opportunities for even better deals on real estate. With resources on its blog, several guides, and professionals available to chat, Homefinder.com walks you through the process of buying a home step by step.

3. Trulia.com

Trulia is a truly user-friendly site that lets you view listings in photo, list, and map formats for the greatest browsing flexibility. Users can get the inside scoop with school reviews, price trends, crime reports, and even reviews from local residents. Trulia has a Find an Agent feature so you can reach out to a real estate agent in your area if you’re ready for professional help, and you can search homes for sale on the free Trulia mobile app as well.

4. Homes.com

Homes.com provides an easy way to search for the basics, including homes for sale, places for rent, recently sold home values and local professionals such as real estate agents. Demographic information for neighborhoods is displayed in graphs and easy to understand, making this a great place to browse if you want to make a data-backed choice.

5. Forsalebyowner.com

This site is pretty self-explanatory. You can find listings of homes being sold without a real estate agent. You can search homes on the market, list your own home for sale, and find plenty of resources for both buyers and sellers. Resources include guides, checklists, and important information to ensure you don’t forget anything if you decide to sell or buy a home on your own.

6. Zillow.com

Often used by homeowners to check their property’s value, Zillow boasts more than 100 million listings with Google Earth views. It doesn’t just list homes that are for sale. Its Zestimates—the estimated market value—provides insight into a home’s worth using publicly available data, and users can ask questions and participate in advice forums in the online community.

7. Lotmix

Sites like Lotmix are a good option if you’re hoping to build a new home. After you create an account, you can match floorplans to available land from leading builders. Get quotes, site plans, and offers and organize them all together in your account. The site recently launched in Australia and has plans to expand to other markets. If you’re interested in building a house, consider looking into construction loan options.

Arm Yourself with Buying Power

By using these house hunting websites, you can save yourself quite a bit of time and energy in your homebuying adventure. It can be a long journey, but if you arm yourself with the right resources, sealing the deal on your new home can become a reality.

Found the perfect home for you online? Make sure buyers take you seriously when you put in a bid. Get approved for a mortgage online so you’re ready to buy and in a more competitive position when bidding against others.

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