Property search has gone digital. Finding a home in 2019 looks very different than finding a home in 1999 or even 2009. Millennials currently makeup 56% of first-time home buyers and are the largest demographic of home buyers generally. So, naturally, online property search services have become much more prevalent. These tools offer convenience and allow potential home buyers to widen their search much further than would be possible in person. 

That said, there is a problem with this “Instagram Generation” approach to house hunting: the carefully curated profiles are designed to hide any flaws that may exist. Because of this, it’s important to take what you see with a grain of salt and keep these three tips in mind when online shopping for your new home.

The Picture Is Not Everything

As we mentioned above, looks can be deceiving. A seller can hide the flaws of their property behind professional photography, flattering lighting and strategic angles. That dreamy renovated property could be on a busy street and suffering from plumbing problems. Those blurry, poorly-lit photos could be hiding a property gem. Be sure to thoroughly check property details and descriptions of key features. Talk to your real estate agent about what you find. Only an in-person walkthrough and, eventually, an inspection will reveal the whole story of a property.

Stay Current

Browsing old listings is a waste of your time and energy. Because of this, you should avoid property sites that do not stay up to date. tends to have the latest listings, pulling new information from regional databases every fifteen minutes. Generally speaking, this makes their site more accurate than alternatives. However, with all online search tools, it’s important to avoid setting your heart on a property until you’ve made further inquiries into its availability.

Rely On Your Agent

These online tools, though helpful, do not replace the services of a real estate agent. An agent brings to the table years of experience, access to other databases and an extensive knowledge of properties and neighborhoods. They can serve to interpret online findings and steer you clear of any duds. Property purchase is a complicated transaction, and you will need professional assistance to accomplish the task successfully.

This is not to say that online property searches are not valuable. They offer great convenience and scope. However, it’s important to stifle those Internet impulse buying instincts. Recognize online property search for what it is: browsing. Use these tools to kickstart the process, and then tackle the rest in person with the guidance of a qualified real estate agent.