Buying a home is a huge commitment, and the entire process can begin to get overwhelming well before you even start thinking about mortgages, taxes, added, bills, and everything else that comes with a new home.
The headache can actually begin when you’re just looking for a home. In a market where mortgage rates seem to be constantly fluctuation and consumer confidence is still shaky at best, finding a new home of your dreams can be quite tough.
While using online tools used to be seen as a way to gain an edge over the competition it is now seen as an essential way of keeping up with the crowds. Especially in the hottest markets around the country. The problem is, there are TONS of websites that claim to offer the best listings in your desired area.
It’s not easy to find the best sites for you, luckily the work has already been done for you! Continue reading to get the lowdown on the best house hunting sites the internet has to offer in 2018.
This huge site updates its listings every 15 minutes and pulls from more than 900 different listing services from across the United States. Those numbers make Realtor.com one of the most up-to-date listing sites on the web. It offers of 4 million total listings and provides insight not only into the home you are looking at, but the neighborhood it is in.
Realtor is offers an attractive and engaging site that also gives visitors something to read in their News & Insights section. Here they break down the latest housing news and help individuals learn about trends in the areas they are interested in moving to and trends across the country.
Another cool feature that Realtor offers is evident upon opening the page. Typically, the site will use your location and show you a high-end house that’s for sale in your city, a lower end house, and mid-level house. It might seem like nothing, but it will give you a good idea for what’s on the market and what you can expect to pay for it.
On top of that, Realtor is the official site of the National Association of Realtors, giving you confident that this is a credible and dependable place to start your search.
Of all the websites on this list, Redfin may very well be the most user-friendly of the bunch. It’s accurate, fast, and like other sites on this list, it takes information from many local listing sites and organizes them together in a readable, usable, and clickable format.
Redfin gives you the option to either view listing on a map, draw a boundary where you’d want to live, or search by more conventional categories such as bedroom number, price, square footage, and more.
Listings include a price estimate, tax info, local school ratings, and other useful insights into the individual homes. One thing to keep in mind about Redfin is that it is a real estate company, so they are going to try to sell you on its own services. That means if you continue with their site, they will work to set you up with an agent from the site rather than the home’s actual seeing agent. Another thing to keep in mind is that the site itself is quite a bit more useful than the corresponding app, so it’s probably best to stick to that.
One final feature that Redfin offers is three-dimensional tours of the homes that they have listings of. It’s a cool feature and it helps you get a real feel for the home before you decide to pile into your car and head there for an in-person tour.
This is a useful site because it breaks down listings by categories from broker listings, rentals, new constructions, foreclosures, and classifieds. This is helpful if you are looking to pursue specific types of listings. Homefinder also offers blog posts, shopping guides, and professionals available for live chat to help you along your journey to home ownership.
HomeFinder is also a great place to go if you are looking for open houses. It’s one of the only real estate sites that offers its own open house tab. The same goes for home foreclosures and auctions.
This might seem a bit out of place in a list that features highly specialized sites dedicated to one or two specific things, but Google Maps has a lot more to offer than you may think. In terms of buying a home, Google Maps can help give you an idea on how your new home is going to work with your already established life.
It can give you an idea how long it’s going to get to and from work, whether you’re going to drive, take public transit, or even be able to bike or scooter. It will help you figure out how close your nearest grocery store is, what restaurants are nearby, and if there are parks and green spaces for you and your family to enjoy.
On top of that, Google Maps allows you to take advantage of its incredible satellite and Street View, which will let you see a good overview of the overall neighborhood. Best of all, the Street View offers the ability to zoom in and out and look over the street and home with a three-dimensional effect. This will give you a great sense of spacing and scale that simple two-dimensional pictures simply cannot offer.
This site is a nice option because it offers the most in-depth demographic information and market analysis for the neighborhoods that the listings exist in. It also offers info on factors such as average commute time, weather risk, and even nearby amenities. You can even get a free home value estimate report.
Realestate.com also features its own news and tips articles on useful topics such as how buying a house can impact your credit, what the costs and benefits are of repairs and renovations, and the many hidden fees that come with buying your very own home.
Zillow is an extremely useful app and site that can be used as a cross-reference for other sites on this list such as Redfin. It also picks up on some listings that other popular sites may miss.
Their “make me move” feature is also incredibly useful. This feature is made up by home owners who put their houses up on the site and list a price that they would be willing to seel for. It also features foreclosures and pre-foreclosures.
Perhaps the most useful feature Zillow has to offer is its Zestimate. The Zestimate is Zillow’s own estimate of what a given home is actually worth. While Redfin offers a similar feature, Zillows does seem to be a bit more accurate because it weighs their price more on actual prices of local home sales nearby.
Other sites on this list do proved ratings for local schools, but GreatSchools also features the parents’ ratings of the school. This is obviously a must-see for parents who are looking to send their kids to the local schools, but it’s even worth a look if you don’t have kids.
Why, you may ask? While you may not mind purchasing a great home in a district with bad schools, it could make selling your house in the future quite hard. Many families won’t even consider a home if they think it will result in their kids getting a poor education.
This site provides a very easy way to search for the basics such as homes for sale, places for rent, recently sold home values, and a directory to local pros to help you find the house that’s right for you. Homes often uses graphs to breakdown demographic information for neighborhoods and is a great place to start your search and get basic information.
There’s little doubt why this is an attractive option for some prospective buyers. Here you can find listings for homes that are for sale without the assistance of a real estate agent. Here you can search homes on the market, list your own home for sale, and find a slew of other resources that will help you along your journey to homeownership. Those features include things like guides, checklists, and important information to help you buy or sell your own home.
This is another kind of site that most potential buyers may not consider, but it is a must-see for home buyers in 2018, especially if you or your spouse plans on working either entirely or partially at home.
This site will give you insight in what kind of cell, cable, and internet access you can expect in a given neighborhood as well as how much you can expect to pay for it. While there are a lot of sites that offer this kind of information, this one does seem to be the most accurate in terms of speed rating, pricing data, and available plans.
This is also a great thing to consider when you are thinking about the costs you will incur when buying a new home on top of your mortgage.
This is a user-friendly site that helps making the home search just a bit easier and simpler. With the option to view listing in photo, list, and map formats, Trulia breaks things down pretty well. Beyond that, their tagline of “get the inside scoop” is much more than just words when looking to buy a home or search for financing. Users can take a look at school reviews, price trends, crime reports, and reviews from local residents to help give you the full picture of what you can expect and what you’re paying for.
Additionally, they just recently added a “Find an Agent” feature so that you can make your search for a local real estate agent that much easier. All of these features are available on both their website and their cellphone app.
Dwellr is a bit different from other sites on this list because instead of focusing on individual properties, it focuses on the neighborhoods in which the properties sit. Some of the features of this app include recording your preferences and compiling a top 25 list of places that fit your desires, a GPS feature to provide you with statistics on a given location, as well as using stats to provide info on more than40 topics for every neighborhood in the country ranging from schools, to commute, and everything in between.
Xome stands alone in this list because it actually allows user to shop and buy homes online. They bill themselves as the one stop shop for real estate, and that is truly the case.
If you’re somewhat scared of the idea of buying a home online, have no fear, Xome is a broker that offers qualified real estate agents as well as mortgage lenders.
By moving the real estate market online, Xome is hoping to make the entire experience less of a headache for prospective home buyers everywhere. Even if you don’t want to actually buy a house online, Xome does help serve as a good starting place as well thanks to its in-depth breakdowns and multitude of diverse listings.
Now that you’ve taken a look at this list, it’s time to start looking for your new house. Use one or all of these sites to get a full 360 view – both literally and metaphorically – of the neighborhoods, homes, and everything that comes with them that you are interested in.
Searching for a home can be a truly stressful experience no matter what your financial situation is. Hopefully this list will help make that experience a bit less traumatic as you begin your search for you and your family’s brand new home.