7 Online Tools For Home Buyers

7 Online Tools For Home Buyers

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7 Online Tools For Home Buyers

By utilizing all the available online tools for home buyers, the process of shopping for a new home can be much more streamlined than driving to every listing that may appear interesting at first glance.  The following is our list of the 7 most useful online tools for home buyers that we recommend for any search for a new home in Los Angeles.

Tool #1 – Online Listing Websites

First things first, familiarize yourself with a website that allows you to search through listings.  Some of the most popular websites that provide access to listings are Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, and Realtor.com.  Each of these websites largely provides the same information, i.e. they all source their information from Multiple Listing Services, so your choice should largely be based on how easily you are able to navigate and access information based on your personal preferences (this author’s personal preference is Redfin).  Keep in mind, though, that there is some information contained in each listing’s “private remarks” that is available only to real estate agents with access to the Multiple Listing Service.  This is where agents may provide additional important information, such as disclosures regarding a property’s condition, or basic information such as future open houses.  That being said, on our list of 7 online tools for home buyers, this one is certainly the most important.

Tool #2 – Google Maps

Google Maps, particularly its street view, is an excellent tool for home buyers looking to get a visual preview of a property’s neighborhood without having to physically go to the property.  It can be used to take a virtual tour of the outside of the property as well as the surrounding area.  This tool will often eliminate the need to visit a property by revealing eye sores and other defects that don’t appear in a property’s listing, such as neighboring gas stations, parking lots, or dilapidated properties that potential purchasers are unwilling to tolerate.

Esquire Real Estate Brokerage Tools for Home Buyers WikipediaTool #3 – Wikipedia and Mapping Los Angeles

Wikipedia and Mapping Los Angeles (and this blog) are excellent tools for home buyers looking for general information pertaining to the various areas of Los Angeles.  Wikipedia often provides the history of an area, its population, a general description of the neighborhood, the locations of public resources such as parks, libraries, and schools, and sometimes even provides a detailed breakdown of sub-regions within an area.  Mapping Los Angeles is extremely useful for statistical information, including crime rates, detailed information on an area’s spread of ethnicity, income, education, and age, and the location of schools within each area.  These two websites alone provide an excellent narrative and statistical overview of any area in Los Angeles.

Tool #4 – Mortgage Payment Calculator

While mortgage brokers and loan officers are also important tools for home buyers, sometimes it’s just easier to get your questions quickly answered online.  When it comes to calculating your monthly payment for any specific purchase price or loan amount, you can easily obtain that information through websites such as MortgageCalculator or BankRate.com.

Esquire Real Estate Brokerage Tools For Home BuyersTool #5 – Property Tax Rate Identifier

The specific tax rate for any property can be found using the websites of the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor and Los Angeles County Department of Auditor-Controller.  First, utilize the County Assessor’s website to identify the “Tax Rate Area” of a specific property.  Then use the Auditor-Controller’s website and the Tax Rate Area to determine the property tax rate applicable to the property.  In Los Angeles, the property tax rate is generally approximately 1.25%.  However, some areas, such as Playa Vista, may subject properties to an additional Mello-Roos property tax, so it’s important to look into the issue of property tax before pulling the trigger.

Tool #6 – School District Review Websites

Many buyers are interested in the identity and quality of the school district within which a property is located.  Most listing websites, such as Zillow and Redfin, will provide this information.  However, in order to obtain additional information on the local schools, buyers should dig deeper by utilizing websites that are designed specifically for providing information and reviews on schools, such as GreatSchools.  The Los Angeles Unified School District also has a Resident School Identifier that can be used to verify the identity of the school district for particular properties in the Los Angeles area.  These tools for home buyers are extremely important for home buyers looking to take advantage of the public school system.

Tool #7 – Sex Offender Registry

Last, but certainly not least on our list of tools for home buyers, is the sex offender registry, also known as the Megan’s Law Database, which is California’s database of registered sex offenders.  Simply enter the address of a property and the database will provide a shocking amount of information on local registered sex offenders, including the offender’s name, address, a mugshot, date of birth, sex, height, weight, eye color, hair color, ethnicity, and a description of the offense.  It’s important to know who your neighbors are, especially if they are registered sex offenders.

Equipped with these 7 tools for home buyers, the process of purchasing a home can be painless, and even enjoyable.  If you would like to further discuss how Esquire Real Estate Brokerage, Inc. can help you in the Los Angeles real estate market, feel free to give us a call at 213-973-9439 or send us an email at info@esquirereb.com.

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