What No One Tells You About Searching for Your Home Online

January 4, 2023
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Perhaps you’re relocating from out of state, or maybe you’re only casually shopping for Rockville townhomes for sale and you’re curious about what’s available. There are several reasons why you might begin shopping for a home by looking at online listings, but regardless of your motivation, there are a few things you must keep in mind as you look. This article will help you better prepare for the process by showing what unique factors and nuances go into an online home search.

Use contingencies to your advantage

It’s common for home contracts to have various contingencies regardless of how you shopped for the property. Two of the most common contingencies are the inspection contingency and the appraisal contingency. Once you agree to a deal to purchase a home, you’ll schedule a time for an inspector to come and look at the property. An inspection contingency allows you to walk away from the deal or renegotiate the selling price depending on what the inspector finds. The appraisal contingency protects both parties in the event that a home doesn’t appraise for a fair market price since this can make it difficult for the buyer to receive the appropriate amount of funding from their lender. Another type of contingency that often comes up in online home deals is a walkthrough contingency. This gives you a final chance to see the home in person before you close on the deal to ensure that everything was well-represented in the photos. Sometimes, this walkthrough can be done with your agent over video if you’re unable to attend in person.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but may not tell the whole story

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Obviously, you won’t buy a home without first seeing photos of the interior and exterior. Hopefully, the photos were taken by a professional photographer since these photos help you see the home in its best light and often provide a better representation than something you could take with your cell phone. However, once you see the home in person, there’s a chance that you won’t like it as much as you did online. At the same time, there’s also a chance that you love the property more than you thought you would. The former even happens with buyers who see the home in person before they close on the deal—you’ll take ownership of the property only to realize that you missed a crack in the walls or a creaky floorboard. Accept that no home will be perfect, but try to get the best picture of what the home is like before you buy.

Making an online offer is easier than ever before

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Most people don’t know that they have to create an official offer when they find a home they’re interested in buying. This offer must be signed before it’s sent to the seller. In the past, these signatures would happen on printed documents. These days, most realtors use an online service like DocuSign to collect signatures electronically. This is a huge advantage for online buyers since they don’t have to worry about printing or faxing any documents. If the seller makes a counteroffer, it’s easy to make changes to the online offer sheet without having to create an entirely new document. 

You don’t have to close in person

Most closings can’t happen 100% electronically
. However, it’s entirely possible to close on a home even if you can’t meet the seller face-to-face. In this scenario, you’ll likely have to print some documents and sign them by hand before placing them in an envelope to mail to your realtor or to the title company that’s helping you with your sale. Some of these documents must be notarized before you can send them off. As you prepare for a remote closing, you’ll communicate regularly with your realtor so that you have a full understanding of what you need to do in order to help the process run as smoothly as possible.

Buying a home online is fairly similar to buying a home in person

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Obviously, the two processes aren’t identical, but there are a few consistencies between either method of shopping for Rockville townhomes for sale. First of all, regardless of how you’re buying a home, you’ll need to work with a lender unless you’re planning to pay for the home in cash. Reach out to a lender early in the process to see what kind of loan you can get pre-approved for. In your first conversation with a potential lender, they’ll want to know about your current credit score and debt-to-income ratio. Later on, they may even ask to see pay stubs or recent tax returns. Once you get pre-approved, you’ll have an idea of what sort of loan you can receive, and you can use this information to determine what price range to shop in.

Another similarity between shopping for homes in person or online is the need to work with a trusted local real estate agent. In fact, this may be even more important when you’re buying a home online since your agent will be able to visit the house in person and answer many of your questions. They’ll also act as your representative when certain in-person events like the inspection and appraisal occur.

If you’re looking for an agent who can help you purchase a home locally or online, work with Jack Wang. Jack regularly ranks as one of the top agents in the entire Montgomery County area. He grew up in Potomac, and he loves advocating for his clients’ needs and interests throughout the entire process of buying or selling homes. When you’re ready to test the market for Gaithersburg real estate, give Jack and his team a call.

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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