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Tips for Looking at Homes Online

By June 26, 2020Home Buying, Podcast
Looking at homes online

Outline for Looking at Homes Online

How to virtually look at homes:

  • View pictures and video tours
  • Research facts & Figures
  • Watch out for Buzz words
  • Learn about the area
  • Don’t be fooled (if it looks too good to be true)

Check Out Our Discussion About Tips for Looking at Homes Online!

View pictures and video tours:

  • More pictures the better
  • One picture or only a few is bad
  • Look at finishes- countertops, flooring, etc
  • Look for must have items
  • Watch virtual tours to understand the floorplan

The more pictures the better, fewer pictures usually mean they are hiding something. Look at finishes closely in pictures i.e. what kind of countertops, cabinets, flooring, etc (sometimes buyer’s get distracted by furniture or staging and miss important details in photos). Remember your must-have items and check in the photos to see if those are in the home i.e. Buyer who wants no backyard neighbors or must have a tub in the master bath. Watch virtual tours if available. Matterport or video walk thru will help you understand the layout of the floorplan so you will know if the layout will work for you.

Facts & Figures:

How many DOM (days on market)?

If it’s been on the market for a long time and it looks perfect then investigate why it hasn’t sold yet. Typically houses that are beautiful, move-in-ready and price appropriately will sell it immediately. 

  • Has it been on a long time? If so, why?
  • Nice move-in ready houses usually sell fast

Property taxes

Check the current property tax bill and make sure it’s in line with what your mortgage lender is estimating based on your pre-approval. If your lender is estimating taxes on the house you purchase to be about $3000 per year but you are considering a home with a $5000 tax bill then that could mean you do not qualify for that home since the additional money in taxes will raise your debt to income ratio. 

HOA fees

Just like property taxes can affect your qualification for purchasing so can HOA fees. Some HOA fees are very low and some can be large monthly expenses. Make sure you check!

Flood insurance required?

Check to see if the home is located in a flood zone. If it is in an area where there is required flood insurance then make sure you are budgeting for that expense. Flood insurance can cost an additional $500-2000 per year on average on top of all your other expenses. 

Find out age of roof, a/c and other major systems

  • Age of big ticket items might make it a dealbreaker (i.e. roof)

Since homes are sold AS-IS in our market it’s important to check out the condition and age of major items. Check the age of the roof, a/c and any other big ticket items ahead of time. If you know the roof will need replacement in the near future and you don’t have the funds for that then that information may eliminate that home from your search. 

Read the disclosures if available 

  • Disclosures usually list some information on age of big ticket items
  • They can reveal bigger problems (sinkhole, mold, water damage, etc)

Disclosures can often provide critical insights such as the age of the roof and if there are other problems with the home that might disqualify it for the buyer.

Watch out for buzz words:

  • Fixer upper
  • Needs TLC
  • Handyman special
  • These homes usually can’t qualify for financing
  • Might look good in pictures but not showing you big hole in roof

Anytime you see any of the above buzzwords those are going to indicate a home that needs at minimum major cosmetic repairs and usually other major repairs. A majority of buyers want a move-in ready home so unless you are a buyer that is looking for a complete renovation type project you will want to avoid these buzzwords. 

This is also important because often “fixer uppers” don’t qualify for financing and are cash only transactions. Some buyers are handy and don’t mind doing major work but unfortunately if they are purchasing the home with a mortgage, then they need to make sure the home qualifies for financing and is in good condition. 

Learn about the area:

  • Google street view then drive down streets
  • Aerial maps- look for busy roads, powerlines, etc

If you aren’t already familiar with the neighborhood and you don’t live close enough to drive through to prescreen the area then check it out virtually! Go to google street view and “drive” the map down the street. Check out the other houses and the neighborhood virtually with this method. Also, be sure to look at the ariel view on the map. This can reveal potential problems or dealbreakers such as a busy road on the other side of the fence in the backyard or large powerlines.

If it’s too good to be true then it is!

If everything about the house seems perfect based on pictures and it seems just too good to be true for the price and what it is offering then you need to do further investigation to make sure there is not something major wrong (i.e. sinkhole or chinese drywall). In real estate, like most things in life if it looks too good to be true it usually always is!


Thank you as always to Crystal Brady for coming onto Waypoint Real Talk!

If you have questions about looking for homes online, be sure to drop a comment.

Realtors, if you are have great insight to the Real Estate Industry, we would love to have you on! Reach out to me here.