Last week, I looked at five real estate search sites and discussed their merits as tools for searching for a home. So now that you have that dream house picked out, it's time you get down to the business of finding a real estate agent and researching both the home itself, and the neighborhood it's in--just to make sure it's still a place you want to live.
After all, moving to a new home can't be as simple as finding a home you like and buying it immediately, right?
Find your real estate agent with DoorFly Once you've found the home you like on sites like Trulia or Realtor.com, you have to find a real estate agent to help you look at homes, secure the best deal, and get you into your new abode. But finding the best real estate agent isn't always easy.
That's where DoorFly comes in. Instead of calling different real estate firms to find the best agent, you can use DoorFly to explain your needs and watch as real estate agents bid to work with you.
When you first sign up for DoorFly, you're asked to provide the area where you'd like to live, your home-buying needs, an affordable price you're willing to pay, and desired home features. That information is then posted on the site and will be viewed by real estate agents who also signed up. Interested agents will contact you and inform you of their knowledge and experience. But here's the kicker--they will also offer an incentive rebate from their commission at closing to sweeten the pot. I found that sometimes that discount is 5 percent of their fee, but it can be up to 20 percent off, depending on the market. Either way, it's a great way to save some money.
As interesting and useful as DoorFly can be, I was disappointed with its general lack of support. Granted, it's a start-up that few people have heard about, but so far, the site only has real estate agents from Indiana, Missouri, Texas, and North Carolina using the site. That's obviously an issue for those who wish to move elsewhere in the U.S. and one that DoorFly can hopefully address at some point in the future.
DoorFly is a compelling and unique service, and you should look at if you want to buy a home in one of those locations. It's easy to use, the real estate agents offer good deals, and generally, they seem to be knowledgeable.
Research mortgages and neighborhoods with HomeThinking HomeThinking is designed quite well. When you're brought to the main page, you can quickly and easily find a real estate agent in any of the 50 U.S. states, perform research on mortgages in cities and towns across the country, or gain knowledge about different neighborhoods in major markets. It's a great resource if you're unsure whether you want to move to a specific location.
When I started evaluating HomeThinking, I first looked for a real estate agent in both big cities like New York and San Francisco, as well as small suburbs in my area. In all cases, the site returned a slew of real estate agents from companies both big and small. It was outstanding.
HomeThinking's neighborhood search is also a great feature that allows you to compare big cities, as well as mid-level markets like Akron, Ohio. When you perform a comparison, the site delivers a slew of results that examine which areas of the new city resemble your current city, as well as reviews by those who live there.
For example, HomeThinking claims that those living in the Castro-Upper Market area of San Francisco will find a similar lifestyle in New York City's West Village. It's a nice feature, but it would have been nice if more information was available. Simply telling me where to move if I like the scene I live in now won't help all that much.
But HomeThinking's best feature is its mortgage resource page, which takes an in-depth look into everything you ever wanted to know about mortgages in the location to which you're planning to move. Whether you're researching suburbs or big cities, the site will deliver the risk of a sub-prime mortgage crisis, leading lenders in the area, the average loan size, number of rejected applications, and much more. It even shows a heat map detailing where the majority of people are trying to buy homes. HomeThinking's mortgage research tool is best I've seen.… Read more