A Realtor consults with her clients as they view a real estate website. Credit: Courtesy of SABOR

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Who doesn’t love browsing homes online? Flipping through beautiful photos, imagining your life as you walk through those doors into the immaculate kitchen with the quartz countertops or that living room with the elegant decorations. It’s every window shopper’s, and daydreamer’s, favorite way to pass the time, but what do you really need to know when it comes to searching for a home online?

Photos only tell part of the story. Sure, that home has that pool in the backyard you’ve always wanted, or the built-in barbecue pit you just know will make you the envy of all your friends, but what’s the traffic like by the home? Do you have enough privacy from your neighbors? And how about the plumbing in that historic home?

It’s important to remember that a house is so much more than elegant decorations and fun-filled amenities. Let’s take a look at what else you need to consider so you can set realistic expectations and make the most of your time home searching.

First, remember that not all websites are the same. You wouldn’t pick up last month’s newspaper to learn about today’s events, right? So you shouldn’t browse home listings on websites that don’t show the most current listings.

The good news is, there are several websites you can be confident have accurate, up to date information. Locally, there’s SABOR.com, which pulls information from the Multiple Listing Service (or MLS) where REALTORS® post their listings for sale. That means the data is much more accurate than other sites that may update less often or that don’t have as strong a relationship with the MLS. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home online only to find out it’s already been sold. Other websites to check out include texasrealestate.com and realtor.com, both of which update regularly with accurate, current information.

Another good tip to remember is a picture is only one part of seeing the home. There may be a history to the property you won’t see in just the photos, or perhaps something behind the walls you need to know about. Your REALTOR® will be able to fill you in on this information so you are making an informed decision before deciding to buy.

You also want to take the time to see what’s around the home. Did you want to be within walking distance of the elementary school? Do you need a spacious park nearby to explore with Fido on the weekends? Will it bother you to live near an intersection known for traffic jams every morning? These are all factors, plus more, you will need to consider before making that offer, and you can’t tell these from photos.

Remember, your REALTOR® is there to help guide you through the process. Think of a property website like a summary of what’s on the market. It’s good for giving you a snapshot of what to expect in different neighborhoods, and to get you excited at the prospect of homeownership, but it won’t include everything you need to know about a property.

You’ll need someone to paint the picture for you, and answer any questions you have about the home or neighborhood. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone objective to talk you through this sometimes emotional process, and to be your advocate when it comes time to buy. Your REALTOR® will help you save time by listening to your priorities, and helping you stay focused. They are there to be a resource and expert guide for you, taking you through each step and ensuring you are prepared to make the largest purchase of your life.

So what are you waiting for? Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to start searching. Get started at SABOR.com to find your property and your REALTOR®.

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San Antonio Board of Realtors

The San Antonio Board of Realtors is your primary resource when it comes to finding a realtor and buying and selling in the San Antonio area. It is the largest professional trade association in San Antonio...