the home search: the right tools
There exists lots of options available to both buyers and agents when it comes to buying a home. We think we’ve found the best in class tools to provide confidence to home buyers throughout the home search and to help agents provide you better service.
Finding an Agent
A great start to finding an agent, and why using a buyer’s agent is a no-brainer, is referrals from friends and family. At Homebloq, we strongly recommend connecting with three to five agents to get a sense of what their style, commissions, transaction history, experience, and general demeanor and comfort.
A note about agent rankings: Those how buy and sell the most real estate do not necessarily represent the best agents for you. Be sure you interview a few agents and understand what makes them a high quality agent a the right fit for you.
In Chicago? Homebloq can help connect you with high quality agents, based on more than just transaction history and sales volume.
Other services exist such as Homelight and TopAgentsRanked.com that allow buyers to fill out a basic questionnaire and get matched to agents based on a proprietary algorithm that uses, among other things, the agents transaction history to find the best matches. These services will then connect you over their platform and/or call you to gather more information to help the agent better understand your needs and fit. UpNest gathers bids from agents and sends them to you to help comparison shop. The best part — none of these services cost you anything!
Looking for Homes
There are hundreds of website and apps to use to find listings. Chief among them are Zillow, Trulia (owned by Zillow), Redfin, and Realtor.com. Given these sites publicly display listings, they are considered ‘portals’ and they carry some significant and potentially unknown downsides:
Consumer control: portals allow consumers to access listings without needing an agent
Dealer’s Choice: with so many options, consumers are bound to find a tool that fits their style, and many offer different types of data
Your agent is left out: in fast moving markets, being able to respond quickly to buyers is critical. Portals do not afford the opportunity for buyers to stay in sync with their agent
Frayed messaging: unlike tools that are collaborative between buyers and agents, portals require extra steps to share listings, messages, and schedule tours
Not your agent: Companies like Zillow allow other agents, who are not yours, to pay to be placed alongside the listing agent, creating confusion
Outside of portals, agents have direct access to the MLS, the database of all active listings, and have the ability to set up buyers with searches where the agent can then recommend listings, share notes, and respond to those the buyer has indicated they’d like to see.
This is why we strongly recommend connecting with an agent and working together on a tool that is MLS-powered and collaborative. This keeps both you and your agent on the same page and communication in one place. For home buyers in Chicago, we offer Homebloq Search, and if not, your agent will provide you access with other tools.
Communicating with your Agent
Outside of text threads, email chains, and voicemails, there exist tools that enable everyone involved in the home search to stay on the same page. At Homebloq, our app features messaging that makes sharing listings and updates easy. Other tools exist that may be provided by your agent through the MLS.
When you alert your agent you would like to see a property, most agents coordinate with other agents through ShowingTime, which includes not only the availability, but instructions on showings (such as lockbox codes). Unfortunately, this area is underserved when it comes to coordinating between buyers and their agents, and most commonly it comes down to email and text threads with spreadsheets.
Another great tool is Calendly, which allows anyone to set up a shared calendar and sync it with their personal calender (i.e. Gmail). This can be great to share with your agent so they know when you’re available and can easily block time to show you listings when you’re free.
Both these tools are available to real estate agents and allow them to submit to buyers documents that need to be signed digitally. This makes sharing, signing, and storing documents, such as offers, incredibly easy for everyone. These tools are integrated in many others and buyers don’t even need to create accounts in order to sign documents with the swipe of a finger.