With property inventory at a steady low, it is important that prospective home buyers know the very best ways to search for real estate.

 In our current “here today, gone tomorrow” atmosphere, your dream home could be well on its way to closing before you’ve even finished scrolling through the photos. “Ooh! Look at that soaking tub!” Too late – the new owner is already pouring the bubble bath.

Don’t be left with regrets on your hunt for a new home. Increase your chances of finding that giant jacuzzi before somebody else does by increasing the efficiency of your search. Otherwise, you might just be left watching your hopes for a new house disappear right down the drain.

Be Prepared

Are you house hunting or window shopping? Window shoppers roam the streets at their leisure, peeking at houses, stopping for coffee, wondering where that dream property might be hiding in the next neighborhood or google search. They spend some time and a little energy, then most of them don’t buy anything.

House hunters, on the other hand, are ready to make an offer before they even start. They’ve done their research. They know what they can afford and how much they want to spend. They are confident in the locations they’ve selected in which to search. They have a clear idea of what they are looking for, and most importantly, they have a letter in hand from their lender (or two or three) stating they can actually foot the bill when push comes to shove.

In order to be successful in your search for a home, you need to come prepared. Browsing the internet, walking properties, attending open houses – none of this will prove fruitful if you don’t have the ability to make an offer on the spot. The real estate market of late is pretty unforgiving, and homes are sometimes “for sale” for only a matter of minutes. So, for true house hunters, gather all those rubber ducks in a row to ensure you will be the one sinking deep into that claw-foot tub.

And Contact a Local Realtor

Because this is not their first go ‘round (even if it’s yours). When it comes to expanding your reach, a realtor can get a larger number of properties in front of you than you are likely to locate on your own. Additionally, they even sometimes have the drop on houses before the all-knowing web does, helping you beat your competition to the finish line. Securing the best realtor for your situation will really get you headed in the right direction - straight toward that dream home.

But the Apps Are Also Oh-So-Handy

So be sure to utilize these, as well. Find your favorites to keep on top of the ever-changing inventory. Most apps have filters or saved search options to help streamline the process and show you only the properties matching your given criteria. Some will even send an email notification when a new house fitting your stipulations hits the market.

Yes, you may (and definitely should) have a realtor, but they can’t have eyes everywhere. Be sure to take matters into your own hands and put that smartphone to work.

And Don’t Forget the Old-Fashioned Way

Remember back before internet-at-our-fingertips and faces-in-smart-phones? Remember long, long ago when people used to gain new information through talking to one another? Believe it or not, that method of communication still works today! When searching for a new home, it is so important to talk to the people around you. You never know who might have a cousin who is getting ready to sell or a neighbor who has been talking about downsizing. Beat the crowds to the house by securing it before it’s ever even listed.

Searching for a home to buy can be a stressful scenario, especially in today’s real estate environment. Those who come prepared with the financial backing and have a solid realtor on their side will fair much better than those who don’t, while easy apps and casual conversations can get that perfect property within reach even faster. If you’re ready – like really ready – to dive in to that search, Ruoff is ready to help. All you have to do is get started.

Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based copywriter and editor with a nerdy passion for AP Style. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, thrift shopping, fitness and travel. Learn more on her website: www.lovewriteon.com.