Searching for and buying houses online is becoming increasingly common (95% of house hunters search online and there are a whopping 180 million online property searches per month), but even though property portals are designed to be quick and convenient there are pitfalls to the process. We take a closer look at the online property market and provide some top tips on how to get the most out of your search.
Some pitfalls of house hunting online to watch out for
Using the internet to find houses can be convenient and time-saving, but if you don’t consider the pitfalls of the online property market then it can be even more time-consuming and frustrating than plodding through dozens of disappointing home viewings every weekend for months at a time.
The biggest problem with searching for homes for sale online is that, as Home.co.uk says, the market is fragmented. It’s impossible for even big brand property portals to include all of the listings available, even when they have dedicated local sites. So house hunters will have to use several sites to see as many properties for sale as possible.
Then there is the duplication problem. Home owners and estate agents list their properties on more than one site, usually with different descriptions, so you’re likely to come across the same house in different guises on many different websites.
Finally, properties that are sold aren’t always immediately removed, so you could find the house of your dreams – in your price range – only to be told that it’s already been sold.
Tips to make the most of your online property search
- Narrow down your search as much as possible.
It’s best if you already have some neighbourhoods in mind, so you can benefit from local search functions. It also helps if you have a price range in mind – which you should definitely do. Also know what you’re looking for: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, garden, etc.
If you’re not having much luck you can widen your search; keep the same price range but maybe rethink the number of bathrooms or search in a postcode that is next the one you really want. Boundary lines aren’t set in stone and you’ll still find great properties in areas that aren’t, strictly speaking, renowned for their property market.
- Set up email alerts.
Most online estate agents and property search portals allow you to set up email alerts for the type of property that you’re trying to find. So, you can search for 3-bedroom flats in Kensington, London, or a 4-bedroom home in the Cotswolds – always keeping within your price range, of course.
- Express your interest.
Once you’ve found a home (or two) that strikes your fancy, contact an estate agent (online or traditional) and let them know that you’re interested in the property. Ask for more details and maybe make an appointment to see them or arrange for a viewing.
- Talk to estate agents.
Get the best of both worlds; use the internet to find properties that interest you, but also make use of estate agents who can do additional hunting on your behalf, and who can provide expert advice regarding the local market you’re interested in.
The online property market is booming. It’s also becoming more professional and credible. So if you want to buy or sell your property online, don’t hesitate to contact an online estate agent.