8 Places to Research Your Potential House Before You Buy a Home

Buying a home is a big deal.  

You don’t want to go into it unprepared.

Before you buy a house, you want to make sure that you are getting the right house for you — and that it’s in the right neighborhood. The steps to buying a house start with thorough research on the topic.

As you research buying a house, here are 8 web sites that can help you narrow the field and find what works best for you:

1. Trulia


One of the main sites you can use to research your potential home is Trulia.

You can look at homes for sale, as well as rentals.  You can compare prices on different homes, and see what similar homes have sold for in recent months.  Trulia also allows you to research the neighborhood the homes are in — which can be quite important.

If you are interested in reported crime stats and school reviews (and you should be), Trulia can help you out.  You can look at these items, as well as read local reviews for different neighborhoods.  Trulia allows you to receive alerts as well, letting you know when prices are cut, and when open houses are held.

2. Sperling’s Best Places

If you are trying to figure out where the best place to live might be, consider visiting Sperling’s Best Places.

You can compare a number of items including:

  • Schools
  • Real estate
  • Mortgage rates
  • Cost of living
  • Climate
  • Crime rates

All of this is helpful information when you are researching a homes in a specific city or neighborhood.  If your living needs are flexible, this site can help you find the best place for you to live, and then you can begin your home search.

3. HomeFair

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Another helpful web site for those researching a home is Home Fair.

Get information on schools, as well as vital statistics on cities.  You can also use the salary calculator to determine what your salary is “worth” in a new place.  You can also get helpful information using an array of calculators, including rent vs. buy, and moving calculators.

4. NETR Online

research your home

Make sure you take some time for research before you buy your home!

If you really want to get serious about looking for information on a prospective property, you can use NETR Online.

It costs money, but you can get specific information on properties you are searching for.  You can compare different properties for $5, or get a property detail report on a specific property for $3.50.  This is helpful information that can help you verify ownership, look at tax information, and find other important information about a property you are considering.

When you start to get serious about a couple of different properties, this can be a valuable resource.

5. RealEstate.com

Get local info on neighborhoods in your desired area, as well as find home values.  You can research different schools and school districts, as well as communities.

RealEstate.com also drills down to neighborhood info, so it’s not just city information.  The school information is also fairly detailed, including test score results, as well as reviews of the schools in question.

6. Listingbook

This web site provides you with a great place to start.  Tapping into MLS, you can find detailed information on homes.  You can look at photos, read about price history, and set up alerts to let you know about changes.  However, there are some limitations to Listingbook, including one that requires you to go through a broker (although you don’t have to work exclusively with your assigned broker).

7. Walk Score

This is one of my favorite web sites when it comes to researching homes and neighborhoods.

You can quickly and easily see what amenities are available in an area with the help of Walk Score.  Find out about entertainment and shopping options, as well as dining and schools.  You can get information about how long it takes to reach amenities using public transit, driving yourself, walking, or riding a bike.

It’s a great resource to get an idea of the flavor of a specific location.

8. Zillow

You can’t forget about Zillow.

Find homes for sale in an area, as well as recent price trends.  You can get demographic income about the area, including information about age, homes with kids, commute times, and schools. Search homes by neighborhood, and even compare neighborhoods in a city.  It can be a helpful look at what to expect, and provide you a solid starting point.

What’s your favorite site to research home?

Published or updated March 28, 2013.

Comments

  1. The wealth of real estate sites have spawned a whole new hobby for house hunters. There are downsides, though.

    Information at many of the larger sites is notoriously outdated and unreliable. Some of the biggest real estate brokerages are refusing to have their listings made available on national websites.

    Most up-to-date info is on the local Multiple Listing Service for your area. It’s easy to find by searching for your local real estate board.

    • You certainly have to take some of the information with a grain of salt but I think you are better off doing the research and finding out what you can than not.

  2. I have used Zillow before, although I am not sure it is very accurate. I like the concept of doing research before you buy because it makes it a less emotional purchase. Too often, people become enamored with a particular house and throw caution to the wind. By researching beforehand, you are less likely to get sucked in as easily.

    • I’ve seen some of the prices and projections on houses that seem off. But it does give you a nice history of the area and you can see what other real estate there is in the area.

      And you are right about the emotional aspect. You find a place you like and get so sucked in you forget about all the other variables like being able to walk and how the school systems are. There are certainly a lot of great real estate agents out there but there are also many that just tell you stuff without actually knowing the area.

  3. Great list of sites to search for potential homes! We really need to be sure when choosing the place we are going to buy, so making a research on your list of potential homes will really help to ensure you get the right one for you and your family.

  4. I’ve got used Zillow before, despite the fact that My business is not sure it’s very correct. I prefer the concept of accomplishing investigation before you obtain given it helps it be the much less over emotional obtain. Many times, persons turn out to be enamored with a particular house along with toss caution towards the blowing wind. By exploring ahead of time, you might be not as likely to acquire was terrible with as easily.

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