After you obtain loan preapproval, it is the perfect time to start looking at houses. How long does the “looking” part take? It’s different for everyone. Some buyers fall in love with and write a contract on the first house they see. Others take longer to find exactly the right property. Buying a house can be emotional and instinctual. It’s often hard to communicate why a house feels “right” or “wrong,” but when you find the right one, you just “know.”
The mulitple listing service (the “MLS”) is the source of all properties offered for sale by real estate brokerages and is the most comprehensive place to find available properties. The MLS can be accessed through brokerage specific websites (for example, Long & Foster), agent websites (like this one) and third party websites like Trulia. All of these websites feature the same listings because they are all getting their data from the same source. The MLS has listings for standard sales, foreclosures and short sales. For Sale By Owner (“FSBO”) listings do not appear in the MLS because they are not listed by a real estate brokerage.
Visiting open houses can be a fantastic way to explore different neighborhoods and see different house styles. Open houses are also a great opportunity to meet neighbors and get the real scoop about a neighborhood.
In addition to open houses, you will want to see houses during private showings with a real estate agent. Private showings provide an opportunity to see a house without the distraction of other people. You can take your time and really think about how a house fits your needs.