Deciding you are ready to purchase a home can be an exciting and overwhelming time. Although homeownership is one of the cornerstones of the “American Dream”, not much information about the process is made available, often leaving folks overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. I know from personal experience, when I was looking for rental properties, I often used online platforms like Zillow, Trulia, and I feel as though this is why many people take to these online platforms as their first step when deciding they're ready to purchase a home. However, renting and buying are two very different things with varying levels of financial investment and commitment. 

I like to think of real estate in dating analogies. Renting a home is kind of like a short-term fling. You don’t have to worry about investing a lot into it, and you know that your time together will likely come to an end in a year or two. Buying a home is more like marriage. You sign lots of legal documents, make a significant financial investment, and often know that you will be with this house for more than just a few years. 

Although there are many benefits to online search platforms like Zillow, it is my professional opinion that they should not be your first stop on the path to home ownership. Rather than browsing through listings on Zillow, I believe it is most beneficial to connect with and establish a relationship with a local realtor for these reasons:

  1. Local Market Knowledge:
    Local realtors possess invaluable knowledge about the neighborhoods and communities you are interested in. They can provide insights into market trends, pricing dynamics amenities, and future developments. By tapping into their expertise, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the local market, enabling you to make informed decisions about your home search.

  2. Tailored Guidance and Support:
    Each home buyer has unique preferences, needs, and budgetary constraints. A local realtor can listen to your specific requirements and curate a personalized selection of properties that align with your criteria. Rather than sifting through countless online listings, you'll receive targeted recommendations, saving you time and effort. Realtors can also guide you through the entire home buying process, from searching and negotiating to financing and closing, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience.

  3. Off-Market Opportunities & MLS access
    While popular online platforms provide a vast array of listings, they may not capture all available properties. Local realtors have access to an extensive network of connections, including exclusive listings and upcoming properties not yet advertised. By partnering with a real estate professional, you increase your chances of discovering hidden gems and off-market opportunities that match your preferences. Something else to note is realtors are the only ones who have access to the MLS or multiple listings service. This is where all listings are uploaded by realtors, and where you can find the most accurate information about the listings. Although third-party sites such as Zillow pull information from the MLS, there are often technical errors that cause inaccurate information to be shown on third-party websites. Working with a realtor with MLS access ensures you are getting the most accurate information possible about homes you are interested in. 

  4. Negotiation Expertise:
    Negotiating the purchase price, terms, and conditions can be a challenging aspect of buying a home. Realtors possess the necessary negotiation skills and experience to advocate on your behalf. They understand market dynamics, comparable sales, and can strategize to secure the best possible deal. With a realtor by your side, you have a trusted advisor who can help you navigate through the negotiation process, potentially saving you money in the long run.

  5. Local Resources and Connections:
    Realtors have a network of professionals they can connect you with, including mortgage brokers, home inspectors, insurance agents, and contractors. Their industry connections can help streamline the home-buying process and provide you with reliable resources for financing, inspections, and any necessary repairs. This network ensures that you have access to trusted experts who can assist you at every step of the way.

  6. Peace of Mind:
    Buying a home is a significant financial investment, and it's natural to have concerns and questions throughout the process. By working with a local realtor, you gain peace of mind knowing that you have a dedicated professional who has your best interests at heart. They can provide guidance, answer your queries, alleviate any uncertainties, and guide you toward making well-informed decisions. Plus, working with an agent who cares deeply about their clients will make you feel much more comfortable and confident.

While scrolling through listings on Zillow can be a fun way to burn some time, if you’re serious about buying a home, spend time connecting with local realtors until you find someone who you think would be a good partner to help you on your journey to homeownership.

Posted by Abby Jester on
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