There are now so many ways you can prepare to buy a home without ever leaving your couch. From using dedicated online home shopping sites to taking virtual tours with a homebuilder, your options are stacked and ready. We’ve detailed some of the ways to find and prepare to purchase your new home.
Preparation is essential, especially if you’re looking for a home in a new city that you’re not familiar with or physically in. With tons of options for neighborhoods and homes, it can make your head spin! Narrow down your choices by creating a wish list . The list can be as simple as a single piece of paper or you can download our Homebuyer 101 guide which includes checklists and helpful tips to consider. Think about your current lifestyle. Do you need a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Is anyone working from home that will need a dedicated office space? Do you know if a basement guest room is essential for your family? Add that to the list of your must-have features. But don’t go overboard with the wish list items in the very beginning. Stick to the basics and you’ll make the process and your life easier down the road.
When you’re buying a house, you’re also buying into a neighborhood. You may have already narrowed down the area you’re interested in and if it’s one that you’ve never visited, it is worth it to conduct some research about it. You can use websites like HomeFacts.comand NeighborhoodScout.com to read up on employment trends, crime, demographics and more. GreatSchools.org is great for school ratings, reviews, staff experience and other stats. Check out TripAdvisorfor info about local dining, recreation and entertainment. You can base your research on your lifestyle preferences.
Using your wish list, navigate through the different home designs that are available in the locations that interest you. Most builder websites will include selections of photos and videos as well as a floor plan with room measurements. While you can use these photos to get a sense of the home and picture yourself living there, make sure you pay attention to the measurements and floor plan details for every room in the house. It may be hard to picture what 11 feet looks like, but you can measure against your existing home to see the potential difference.
Virtual tours became more common during 2020, and for good reasons! Stanley Martin uses 3D Matterport tours to allow for virtual viewing of properties. You can pan rooms and move from floor to floor at your own pace and without having to meet with anyone. We also have video tours of our homes and neighborhoods so there are several ways to view your options. For the times when you would like a more personalized virtual tour, neighborhood sales managers can walk you through a home. This is a great time to ask any questions that you may have about the features of the home and the neighborhood. A good tip is to also ask for whoever is facilitating the virtual tour to walk you outside of the home and around the street – this way, you can see the surrounding area and what your home looks like within the neighborhood.
An important part of any house search is having a clear picture of your finances. You want to know what your price range is and what things you will need to move forward. Luckily, you can begin your finance journey right at home! Start by getting prequalified with a mortgage company like our partner First Heritage Mortgage. From there, you can use tools like a mortgage calculator to get an idea of a monthly payment and how factors like interest rates and loan terms can affect your bottom line.
We hope this list helps you feel confident about starting your homebuying journey online. Happy house hunting!