As most of you know, we put our house on the market exactly 1 week ago. While we wait for an offer to roll in, I’ve already been on the hunt for our next house. I’m a BIG fan of house hunting. I know a lot of people find it tedious or confusing or stressful, but I actually have a lot of fun looking for houses and I’m here to show you how easy it can actually be to find your dream house!
Today I’m showing you how to use 2 different real estate sites – Redfin and Zillow to search for your perfect home in a few simple clicks. Once you get the hang of it it’s really quite easy and can even be fun! It’s true, I promise! 🙂
How to Find Your Dream House in a Few Simple Clicks
When you head on over to redfin.com you’re met with the pretty page above! Simply type in an area or city that you are interested in looking for your future dream house. I choose Shoreline, Washington, which is about 20 minutes outside of downtown Seattle.
When you enter your initial search, it pulls up all the houses in that designated area with that city in the address, which is outlined with a red box. However, I don’t like to limit myself to one tiny area, so to see all houses, simply click “Remove Outline” which is denoted with the blue circle and yellow star.
Now, once you click the “Remove Outline” box you will immediately be overwhelmed by all of the houses that pop up! This is showing every single house/condo/land parcel/etc home that is for sale at any price in any condition. Now we need to work on eliminating options we don’t want so we can narrow down our dream house selections.
On the top right of the Redfin screen, you’ll find little drop down boxes for price and amount of bedrooms. I usually don’t set a minimum price, but I set my maximum price for a little bit over my budget. Redfin only lets you choose house prices in increments of 50k, so I set my max price to 650k in case my budget were somewhere around 625k.
Now the trick to choosing bedrooms is actually to set your minimum at 1 bedroom less than you really want. For example, I want a 4 bedroom house, but I set it to a minimum of 3 bedrooms. Why, you ask? The answer is because many houses are listed at 3 bedrooms, but also may have another space that can be used as an office or bedroom that isn’t listed as a proper bedroom. I don’t want to miss out on any cool 3bed + office space houses by limiting my search to 4beds, so I set my minimum to 3 to open up more houses as possibilities.
To narrow down the choices even further, click on the blue “More Filters” drop down and you’ll get a menu where you can select additional options that you want your dream house to have. You can set what kind of property types you want to see, how many bathrooms, square feet, or even if you want a garage, fixer-upper, or waterfront property.
This menu also has an important ‘Time on Redfin’ dropdown. This is handy if you check Redfin everyday obsessively (like me…hah). You can set it to “new listings,” “less than 3 days,” “less than a week,” “less than a month,” etc. This way you can avoid looking at the same old listings over and over again and only check out ones that have recently come on the market!
Now that we’ve narrowed it down to homes that actually fit our price range and criteria, it’s time to look at houses! You can get a quick view of a house by clicking on the green tag on the map. This will bring up a mini listing for the house in question. You can quickly click through the photos and get other basic information on the property.
If there’s a house that you really like and want a more in-depth look at, either double-click the green tag on the map, or double-click the house photo in the mini quick view on the right side of your window. This will open up a new window with the full listing. Here you can look at photos more closely, check out all the details of the property, look at the house on a map, get info about when it last sold and for how much, nearby schools, and more.
If you decide you love a house and want to save it, click the heart button in the top right corner. Don’t think the house will work for you? Click the X out button and from then on out, that listing will have a little x on it when viewing potential houses on the map so you know not to click and look at it again.
The last step is checking out all your favorite dream houses and comparing them together. To get to your favorites, click on your profile picture in the top right corner and select ‘Favorites’. This will pull up all the houses you’ve hearted. You can sort them by price, city, $/sq foot, date added and more.
That’s all there is to it! Now all you need to do is get your real estate agent out to look at your favorites and before you know it you’ll be living in the house of your dreams 🙂
How to Find Your Dream House in a Few Simple Clicks
Another fantastic real estate tool to use is Zillow (which I’m obviously biased in my love for since I write for their blog!). I like to check both Redfin and Zillow to compare what’s on the market, since sometimes new listings will hit one site or the other first. Follow the steps below to find the perfect dream home using Zillow!
Similar to the Redfin homepage, zillow.com has a place for you to type in the desired area that you want to start looking for a home in. Zillow also has a nice function where you can search for places to rent in case you aren’t ready to buy a house!
Your immediate search results will be sectioned off by a blue outline so you’re only viewing listings with that city in the address. To expand the search map like we did with Redfin, simply click anywhere outside of the map.
Once more we are bombarded with a zillion and one houses, most of which don’t fit our criteria for our dream house. It’s time to pare down and get rid of all the ones that obviously won’t fit what you’re looking for!
The red dots indicate properties that are for sale, while the blue dots indicate potential listings – i.e. houses that are in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure. To simply things, I chose just to look for houses that were actively for sale. The nice thing about Zillow’s price selector is that you can type in your own price so you can be very specific about your budget and not see an houses that are way over what you are willing to pay.
You can choose the rest of your search parameters by going through each of the dropdown menus in the magenta and starred circle above. I like that you can choose a max HOA fee you’d be willing to pay and that you can choose to view single story homes only if you aren’t interested in a property with stairs.
Same with Redfin, you can also choose to view listings by how long they have been on the Market, which eliminates time spent looking at old listings you’ve already viewed before.
To sort through the housing options you have left, simply scroll down over the right hand side of your window. This will automatically pull all of the red dot houses from the map and puts them in a nice orderly list so you don’t have to click around on all the individual dots, which is nice. You can heart from this list, but if you want a closer look, simply click on one of the photos.
When you click on a photo of a house you are interested in, it will bring up a pop-up window in your browser that has listing pictures, house and property information, a map, nearby schools, and their handy Zestimate feature – which tells you what they estimate the house to be worth, which is perfect for figuring out if the sellers have priced their home fairly or not.
If you love the house, click save, and if not, click hide. The upper hand that Zillow has over Redfin with hiding properties you don’t like is that when you do this on Zillow, it removes them from the map, while with Redfin they will still pop up, but just have an X next to it.
Once you’ve gone through and saved some homes, you can compare them by going to your list of hearted properties by going to ‘My Zillow’ in the top right and selecting ‘Saved Homes’. You can sort by price, Zestimate, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, year built, and more. Simply scroll through your list or click on the individual hearts on the map to figure out which one would work best for you and your family!
Each of these sites has their pros and cons, but I find that I get the best results by using them both in tandem to cross-check one another. With a little bit of patience, perseverance, and tech savviness, you too can find the home of your dreams in a few simple clicks!