Online search tips for finding the perfect home

Technology has made it easier than ever to start looking for a home online; however the sheer volume of property listings on the various online property search portals can be rather overwhelming, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Statistics reveal that nine out of every 10 potential buyers will search the internet before looking at any other type of resource when looking for a new home. “Around 90% of people who are looking to purchase a home will start their journey online. Potential buyers are able to gain access to massive volumes of information at the click of a button. However, while the access to the vast amounts of information is why buyers start their search online, being exposed to such high volumes of property listings could make the search harder if the buyer does not have a way of narrowing down their search criteria,” says Goslett.

He provides a few tips to help potential buyers narrow down their search results and make it easier for them to streamline the list of homes they would like to see in person:


Ideally a buyer should assess their financial situation and get pre-approval on home loan finance before looking at properties online. Contacting a bank or bond origination company such as BetterLife Home Loans, will assist the buyer in determining what they can afford and what price range of homes they can look at. “Remember that what a bank is willing to lend is not always what a buyer may be are prepared to spend. It is important to remain within a price range that doesn’t stretch the budget to the absolute high-end of the scale. When entering search criteria online be sure to choose a price range that fits comfortably into the budget’s limits,” advises Goslett.

He adds that an advantage to searching for homes that are comfortably within the buyer’s budget is that if they find themselves in a multiple offer situation, they will be able to offer more money without putting themselves under too much financial strain. “The buyer will have the flexibility to compete with other buyers in the market.”

Look at the map

It is easy to get caught up with the images of the property and forget about where it is located. “The home may seem picture perfect and might have all the features that are required, but it is important to see where it is located on the map and how that ties into the specific criteria that were outlined at the start. Before contacting the listing agent, consider the property’s proximity to work, good schools and amenities,” says Goslett.

Consulting the map first will help buyers to avoid finding what they think is the perfect home, situated in a not-so-perfect location.

Filter down top neighbourhood choices

Driving from one side of a city to the other a buyer will encounter several different pockets of culture and attitude. “Although different suburbs all form part of the same city, different neighbourhoods will cater to different kinds of buyers and their lifestyles. While family buyers may want to live in the quieter suburbs that are close to schools, younger buyers may prefer to be in fast-paced hubs. Searching for specific neighbourhoods will greatly filter down the property search,” says Goslett.

Remember to balance character with upkeep

While older homes may have the type of character and features a buyer is looking for, it could come at the cost of updating and fixing certain aspects of the property.  “Although an older property might have higher ceilings or a larger garden, it will probably also require more maintenance from the start. It is important for a buyer to find the balance between a home’s character and its upkeep,” says Goslett.

Photos and videos are only 2D

While images and even a video of the home can give a buyer an idea of the property and its character, there is still only so much that a photo can convey. “Online searches are ideal to narrow down properties and compile a list of possible buys, however to truly get a feel for a property and its surroundings a buyer should go and see their top properties before they make their final decision,” says Goslett. “Seeing a property in person will clear up any uncertainties and help the buyer to decide on whether or not they can see themselves living in that property,” he concludes.

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