How to use the internet to shop for the right home

Real Estate Agent with Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) DB-17066

If you are going to be successful looking for your next home online, you need to know how to search effectively.  According to the National Association of Realtors, 93 percent of home buyers are looking online to find their next home. 

Start by searching the most comprehensive up to date website (database) possible.  Understand the benefits and limits of other databases (websites).  For example, if you are looking to buy a home in Boise Idaho, the largest and most accurate source of current homes for sale is the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  Other websites typically team up with the MLS providers and syndicate (share) the data.  Some places pull updates more often than others ranging from monthly to as often as every 15 minutes.  Some update only price and status, not photos, remarks, or open houses.

Understand what listings are included.  Does the website show all listings, or just active listings still for sale.  Some websites prefer not to show homes that already have accepted offers. 

Learn the basic terms and definitions.  The IMLS has nearly 200 separate fields that Realtors can use to describe the property.  The more you know about these fields, the better you can search for what is important to you.  Have your Realtor walk through a blank listing form with you and explain what the differences are and why.  For example, when is a room a den verses a bedroom?  How are bathrooms classified (half bath, ¾ or full) and why?  What is the difference between Days on Market and Cumulative Days on Market?  Are those numbers accurate on new homes?  What do Home Owner’s Associations Dues cover?  What is pressurized irrigation?  Are school district boundaries accurate?  How do they measure bedooms – with or without closets?  What are the financing terms offered? 

Take the time to learn what limits your search so you can help separate needs from wants.  For example, if you are looking to buy a home in Boise, the following search is based on May 2, 2015 from the Intermountain MLS:

·         Total number of residential listings for sale (not pending or sold) in the IMLS = 5,926

·         Geographic  boundary – City of Boise = 1,134

·         Type of home = Single Family (not townhouse or condo, etc) = 953

·         Price range: $150,000 - $250,000 = 398

·         Age of home = New, under construction or to be built still) = 115

·         Minimum size: (doesn’t include garage) 1500 square feet

·         Minimum bedroom count: 4 bedrooms plus = 28

·         Minimum bathroom count:  2.5+ bathrooms = 25

·         Minimum garage bays:  3+ cars = 5

·         Specific requirements if applicable:  main level master suite = 0 homes still to choose from

You can now see how we went from having nearly 6,000 homes to look at narrowed down too specific where we ran out of choices.  If this was your criteria, I would discuss with you other options including resale homes (3 still available meeting all the criteria noted above).  We could also meet with builders to discuss building a custom home meeting all these criteria within your budget and your dream home could be built and ready in 4-5 months!

I use a program that allows us to enter this type of search and save it.  That way, as soon as someone lists a property for sale meeting my client’s needs, it sends them an email with a direct link to the MLS with more details.  My clients can flag the listing as a favorite or reject it.  They can even take notes for the specific listings which I can read and comment on as well.

I can set the notifications to be based on just showing brand new listings, or I can have it show up again with any price change, status charge or even when they do any edits at all.  The notifications can be set for immediate, daily or weekly depending on how aggressively my clients are looking for homes.

Since the link is a live link to the back door of our MLS program, it gives my clients real time access to status of a listing just like I would have looking it up for them in the MLS.  This sure beats looking at the Home’s for Sale tabloids that are printed weekly or monthly.  The data should never be more than one business day old since it is coming straight from our multiple listing system whose members are fined if their data is not updated!

If you would like me to set up a custom search for you, just let me know your specific criteria.  It can even be used to track similar homes to yours if you are on the fence thinking about selling.  I have even set up automated emails for various organizations that track data by census tracks and school districts.  I have custom drawn maps for people only want to live in certain geographic boundaries. 


Describe your dream home parameters to me and let’s see if we can’t automate the search for it!  Just call Jim Paulson, the owner/broker of Progressive Realty Corporation or email me at today!


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Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Jim - I believe anyone searching for a home to purchase should find a real estate agent who will provide the buyer a free search of their Multiple Listing Service (MLS). That will always be the most accurate and up-to-date information on the internet.

May 02, 2015 04:49 AM #1
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

Troy Erickson I agree.  I just had my website changed over to be more mobile friendly since so many of my clients are searching  on the cell phones while they are out looking at homes.

May 02, 2015 06:17 AM #2
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Hello Jim and I agree with Troy, shopping online is great along with finding a agent.

May 02, 2015 09:16 AM #3
Pamela Cendejas
Second Self Virtual Assistance - Kingman, AZ
Second Self Virtual Assistance (928) 692-3235

Such great information for doing a home search online.  You were wise to update your website, too, Jim.  Since most people are using mobile devices to do their searches, it only makes sense to accommodate them.  Google is giving priority ranking to sites with mobile responsive themes, too.

May 22, 2015 02:46 AM #4
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

This information will be very valuable to buyers, especially first time home buyers!

May 22, 2015 05:52 AM #5
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

Thanks for the feedback.  I really think it puts it in perspective when you show buyers how adding criteria narrows the search, some times too much so.

May 22, 2015 06:35 AM #6
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