Today, most home shoppers start their new home research online. But there are many websites and new home destinations that feature homes, apartments, ranches, townhomes, condominiums, or land, so where should you start? In addition to that, all home builders and developers have websites. There are also national real estate websites, local brokerage websites, and the buy and sell ugly houses folks. It’s easy to get lost before you even take your first “virtual” step! Looking at all these options can give you the website willies!
When it comes to new home construction or homebuilders, an ‘aggregator website, like Hot On! Homes” is an excellent place to start. New home aggregator websites combine information from several sources and may contain other information that may be very helpful. The internet is also filled with sites featuring pre-owned homes and rental properties. Look for websites that exclusively feature new homes and developers. These websites can introduce you to many builders and communities, and give you a good idea of what types of homes and lifestyle choices exist in the homes in your price range.
Step 1. To start, go to your favorite search engine, type in a search term that most likely describes what you’re looking for and where you want to live. You may try typing in the words “new homes in Dallas” or “new homes in North Dallas” or a particular city. Specific terms that a unique to the area where you’d like to live can help. Using a phrase such as “new homes inside the loop” or “new homes near the tech corridor” or even “new homes near the University. Any term similar to those listed above will get you started.
Step 2. Once you’ve entered your search term, you’ll be presented with a list of websites that contain helpful information. At this stage, going to a specific builder may be a little premature. (We obviously recommend “HotOnHomes.com” and believe it will be the most helpful to new home buyers.) These sites allow you to view new homes and communities, watch videos about new homes, and review discounts and incentives that builders may be offering home buyers.
Step 3. There’s a trick for reading an internet search return page such as those that Google, Bing, or Yahoo! present to internet searchers. Each, “search return page” will probably contain a few paid advertisements for home builders at the very top, and possible at the bottom of the page. Some of these listings may even say “ad” beside them. These are placements that the builder is paying Google to put at the very top of the list in hopes that you’ll click on one of them. If you do, Google charges the builder for the “click.” Homebuilders and other companies like Zillow, Apartmenst.com, and Realtor.com pay a premium to get their ads at the top of the page. Each time a home shopper clicks on one of these ads, Google charges the company. Each “click” you make can cost a builder as little as $1.00 or as much as $9.00 in highly competitive markets such as Austin or San Francisco. Builders want your business, and they’ll pay Google (or Bing or Yahoo!) a lot of money to help them get it!
Step 4. Your next step will be to click on one of the search return results. Many aggregate websites will allow you to submit search criteria and filters to narrow down your new home search. Filters like price range and location can narrow a broad search into a handful of prospective properties or communities that match your criteria. Many websites allow you the option to put in the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, number of stories, garage size, lot (homesite) size, community amenities, lake or water view, greenbelt or park access, game or media room, and other features. When you’ve entered all the criteria you can, you’ll be presented with a list, or a map with pins, indicating all the new homes or communities that match your criteria. The list will often feature several builders and show you homes that are available for immediate purchase or can be built to order.
Don’t be alarmed that everything on your list doesn’t appear in all the homes. Things like granite countertops and under-mount sinks are options that can be added later. You’re still in the very early stages of your search. The goal of this step is to narrow down your search to communities and builders that can deliver homes in your price range and in the locations you want. Next, you’ll have a couple of critical elements that you must have in your new home. Start a list of the houses or communities, or builders that you like and eliminate those that don’t interest you. Remember, if you don’t like the neighborhood or builder on the website, where the builder is putting their very best foot forward, then you probably won’t like them in person.
Most aggregate real estate websites also allow you to click through to a builder’s website. Do this for the builders you like to get a more in-depth insight into the community, and the unique selling proposition (USP) of that builder. Once you’re on the builder’s website, you’ll see more of the homes they build, several floor plans and new videos of their homes in other communities.
This “researching” stage is one of the most enjoyable steps of your new home search. As you see something on an aggregate website that piques your interest or appears as though it may fit with your wants and needs, make a note. Put these builders down on a list and then visit each of their websites to learn more about them. You’ll see that every community is a little different, and some offer floor plans that are not available in others. The builder’s website will have information that you cannot get anywhere else.
And, most of all, when you’re researching your next new home, have fun! That is the very best cure for builder website willies!