The internet is one of your best resources when it comes to buying a home. Websites and mobile apps such as the ones listed below can help you find a realtor, browse homes for sale and rent, see how much you can afford, and check out the crime reports, walkability, and school districts of various communities:
Homes and Realtors
Realtor.com – Realtor.com is a great place to start you home search, and can be accessed from a computer or a mobile device. Realtor.com allows you to input your own search criteria including price, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, location, and type of home. Realtor.com also has a search function that generates a list of nearby open houses, which can be a great way to get a feel for the current housing market.
Zillow.com – This has similar features as Realtor.com, but it also allows you to view information (such as size, year built, and estimated worth) on homes that are not for sale. This is helpful if you are curious about the value of other homes in the community you are considering moving into. You don’t want to have the least or most expensive home in the neighborhood, as neither is good for resale value. Zillow.com also allows you to shop for mortgage rates and gather home design ideas (which you can pin and share with other people).
Annualcreditreport.com - A good credit score impacts the interest rate you pay on your mortgage and how much you can borrow. A score of 692 is average, and the higher your score the better. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report once a year. Similarly, FreeCreditScore.com offers a free, 7-day trial membership during which you can access your current credit score.
MortgageCalculator.org – Use MortgageCalculator.com to get a rough estimate of monthly payments, pay-off date, and total interest paid. You should also consult with a lender. As a rough rule of thumb, many lenders advise clients not to spend more than 28% of their monthly, pretax income on a mortgage.
Walkscore.com – This website is a great resource renters can use to find out how “walkable” homes are, from a score of 1 (not walkable) to 100 (highly walkable). Walkschore.com allows you to serach for rentals based on rent, number of bedrooms, commute time, distance to public transportation, and walkscore. It also lets you filter your search to include pet-friendly options. Walkscore tells you what amenities are in walking distance and how far they are from any given home. Amenities include restaurants, shops, schools, gyms, etc. The one downside of this website and mobile app is that it only shows rentals—not homes for sale. However, homeowners can select a rental nearby in order to look at the area around it. Buyers can also use GoogleMaps.com. GoogleMaps doesn’t provide a walk score, but still illustrates what homes are surrounded by and how close they are to city centers, schools, and so forth.
Crimereports.com – Enter an address or ZIP code to access statistics on crime. Remember, every community has some degree of crime. It’s a good idea to talk to current residents of a particular neighborhood to see how safe they feel.
GreatSchools.com – This website rates schools, which is important even for people without children. A good school district helps a home maintain its value other the years. When you eventually sell your home, the school district may be paramount to buyers even if it was secondary to you.
Your most trusted resource when searching for a home is a professional real estate agent. Hire an experienced REALTOR who is a good communicator and knows the market well. If you or someone you know is thinking about buying a home in Central Ohio, visit my website and contact me to ask how I can help.