If you’ve been searching for a new home for you and your family, you probably have done a substantial amount of shopping online. You’re certainly not alone in this; 92% of people now use the Internet when looking for a new home. However, if you’ve been looking for homes exclusively online, you’re likely missing some vital information about that dream home you found. While shopping online for houses is incredibly accessible and convenient, you might miss these important dealbreakers if you’re not careful.
When looking at a home listing online, the price you see should be the price you pay for the home. Unfortunately, this price often isn’t what you really end up spending. This number fails to take into account a wide variety of potentially expensive fees in the long run. In fact, just the closing costs for your new home could be up to 5% of the home purchase.
If you’re making a long-distance move, make sure you’re aware of any sales or real estate taxes in the area, since they’re likely different from where you currently live. Look for a state with low real estate taxes if you can; Delaware has some of the lowest real estate taxes in the country, along with states like Alabama, Louisiana, and surprisingly, Hawaii.
Also make sure you do some research on what your energy and utility bills might look like compared to your current living situation. Check the weather and seasonal patterns for your new home’s location; heating and cooling account for 50% of the energy use in the average home, and if you’re moving out of state, this could heavily factor in the long-term cost of your new home.
When you’re looking at a home online, you’re at the mercy of whatever photos are posted online for public consumption. It’s likely the photos available online aren’t going to show you the full extent of the damages the home has. What might look like the perfect home could have serious problems that are hidden behind walls or just outside the frame of the photo.
To avoid running into expensive necessary repairs, make sure you schedule a home inspection before closing on the home. If you skip this step, you could be stuck with the bill for expensive repairs the former owners had been putting off.
Even if the home itself is ideal, it’s hard to tell what your neighbors or the local school systems will be like just from a listing online. If you do most of your home shopping online without fully knowing the neighborhood you’ll be moving to, you could quickly find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
Luckily, there are several helpful metrics to help you get a sense of the neighborhood, even if you can’t walk the area yourself in person. Look for data on school ratings, crime rates, walkability, and hospitals. This will help you make sure you’re moving to a safe area with decent amenities.
Looking for a home can be a challenge, and while looking online is helpful, it might lead you to miss some key information if you’re not careful. Make sure you pick out the right home for your family by doing your research, and not just on the home listing’s website.