What to Expect – Setting up Your Home Search Radar
The second step in the home buying process, after you have established your budget with a lender, is to come into our office and get your custom search radar set up. There a several benefits to having this run directly out of the MLS! As you will see in the photo above, we can avoid homes close to interstates by constructing pockets that automatically leave a buffer zone. We can also use this tool to watch several different neighborhoods at the same time without having multiple searches running. Spending an hour with us in the office getting this set up in the beginning saves you countless hours down the road by filtering out properties that do not match your goals.
Our Results are Hyper-Focused
When homes are listed in the MLS they are categorized by areas. The map below shows the area numbers designated by FMLS in Atlanta, GA. These numbers are a bit cryptic because they have no correlation to zip codes or anything recognizable to the public. Yet, these area numbers are what we as agents use to build our searches when we are working with buyers. Online search tools on the other hand typically use zip codes and cities. The challenge? Zip code and city boundaries can envelop very diverse areas.
Our searches are hyper-focused so you can have the luxury of skipping the GOOD properties that may distract you from the ones that are the BEST fit. Few things are more frustrating to a home buyer than missing out on a great house because they got distracted with the fringe inventory. Curiosity can be costly!
The photo below shows the same custom search above overlaid on the MLS areas. There is no way to do this with an online search tool. These pockets straddle 3 zip codes, multiple school districts and two MLS areas.
Our Updates are FAST
Once your Custom Search Radar is set up and running, updates come to you via email within about 10 minutes. That means you will have access to the source MLS data virtually real-time. When inventory is low and multiple offers are common, speed matters! Online real estate search tools have a routine they use to extract and reconcile MLS data on a set schedule. These alerts may be delayed.
Using Bing Maps Bird’s Eye Viewer can save you a LOT of time!
The internet has definitely transformed the way Buyers search for homes. I vividly remember hearing conversations about how this app and that app were going to make agents obsolete. Not likely… I can give you a litany of reasons why some computer algorithm will never replace a human being but that is a topic for a different blog post. Road noise, pet smells, musty dampness and sticking doors are just a few examples. Here though, I actually want to celebrate the advances in information availability – particularly mapping.
We recommend Bing Maps Bird’s Eye maps
We recommend Bing Maps Bird’s Eye maps to our Buyer clients because that is what we use to screen properties. Why? Let’s take a look.
The photo above is an example from Bing. Although we use both Bing and Google, we like the Bing Bird’s Eye viewer best because it is 3D – so you can see more. It also allows you to spin around the house with 4 different views – and usually not 4 different versions of the same photo. It really is 4 different photos. Sometimes the season of the photography is even different. The aerial photography above was taken in the winter months with the leaves off of the trees. This is my favorite season for aerial photography because we want to see things when they are at their worst from a privacy perspective when we am representing Buyers. It will only get better from there.
The photo below is an example from Google Maps. The aerial photography was taken in the summer months with the leaves ON the trees. Why does that matter? We will see in the next couple of photos.
As you can see from the photo below (winter photography) there is something lurking in the distance behind the house… Let’s spin around and zoom in!
Looks like a house with a semi-permanent blue tarp on it, several “vehicles” in the yard and some sort of shed out back? My thoughts immediately go to our rule: There things you can “cure” and things you can’t. Yes, you could plant lots of evergreen trees to screen this out if you did not want to look at it so technically is IS curable. However, one could easily buy this house in the summer and be in for a rude awakening when winter comes around. My only point here is that we equip our clients with the best tools available to make sure they know what they are buying regardless of the season. When tools like this are available online, we want to use them because in this case it may have saved everyone a trip out to see this house…
Ok, one last comment on this and I promise this diatribe will be over. Are you looking for lake property? Bing and Google maps are ESPECIALLY helpful when you want to know if the dock ever gets dry. Interestingly, most aerial photography for engineering purposes is taken in the winter so the ground is visible. These photos are used to map topography and flood zones. The cool side benefit is that winter also happens to be the season when the lake water levels are at their lowest. Good information to have to make sure the seller is telling you the whole story 🙂