When is it time to stop ‘just browsing’ Redfin and Zillow and talk to a Realtor?

If you’ve recently found yourself browsing popular home search apps like Redfin or Zillow on your phone while you’re in line at the grocery store or on your iPad during commercials, you’re not alone.

In fact, 57% of future home buyers report casually searching home search apps for homes for at least 2 months before talking to a real estate agent.

But this could be a huge mistake.

When is it time to stop ‘just browsing’ Redfin and Zillow and talk to a Realtor?

The short answer to the question is that you should talk to a real estate agent as soon as you have made up your mind that you want to purchase a home.

This is true even if you don’t have a concrete timeline for when you want to buy, you don’t have enough money saved for a down payment yet, you’re working to repair your credit or any other number of unknown variables that may stop you from talking to a real estate agent.

We’ll give you 4 concrete reasons why talking to a real estate agent can save you from losing your dream home later in this article, but we wanted to share a story that illustrates a few reasons why first.

We have been selling real estate together as a husband and wife team since 1979.

In 2013, we helped our youngest son Corey, and his new wife Kacie, find and buy their first home. It was a beautiful new townhome in the new Sendero community in Rancho Mission Viejo. I think we were as proud as they were to watch them move into their first home.

Like so many others, when the pandemic hit in 2020 they started thinking about the possibility of moving into a bigger home with more rooms and a yard to accommodate their growing family (now a family of 4).

They didn’t have a timeline to buy and didn’t even know if they were even serious about moving. So rather than talk to us, they just casually browsed Redfin a few times per week after they put the kids to bed to see what new listings were available.

Eventually, they even set up a Redfin account so they could be alerted to new listings in the neighborhoods and price range they wanted to buy.

All of this happened unbeknownst to us, until one night we got a call asking if we could set up a showing for them to see a home they really liked.

Of course, we agreed and worked quickly to contact the agent to set up a showing. The only problem was, that listing had already been in escrow for 2 days and was no longer available to show them.

We called them back with the news and encouraged them to have us set up listing alerts through our Multiple Listing Service (MLS) since Redfin often posts listing updates several hours, or even days after we can access them in the MLS. We wanted to ensure this didn’t happen again.

They didn’t want to inconvenience us, and they still weren’t really sure if they were going to buy anytime soon so they declined to have us set up listing alerts through our MLS.

One week later, we got the same call. They had found a property on Redfin that they wanted us to set up a showing for the next day. Again, we worked to quickly contact the agent to set up the showing. And again, the property had already gone into escrow and was no longer available.

After this second occurrence, they agreed to allow us to set up listing alerts for them through our MLS so they would be working with the most immediate and accurate listing data.

They also agreed to meet with us for a Buyer’s Consultation so we could prepare with them and be ready to make an offer if and when they found the right home.

A month later, we got a call on a Thursday night that they had received a listing alert from us for a new listing that they wanted to see the next day. We set up a showing for Friday at 9:30 am and they were the very first people to see the new listing.

They loved the house so much that they visited the house again on Saturday morning. They knew this property wouldn’t last long so they asked us to write an offer for them that day.

Less than 12 hours later, they were in escrow on their new home, despite competing against several offers on the home, and took possession of their new home the day before Thanksgiving.

READ: 8 Ways to Land Your Dream Home to see some of what we did to help them stand out and be the winning offer.

We tell this story because there are a few great takeaways for any future home buyer.

1. Having time to prepare will allow you to move much quicker when you find the right home. Waiting until you find the right home to contact a real estate agent is like trying to make same-day reservations at a popular restaurant on a Saturday night. There’s a chance things could go right, but your chances are much greater if you plan it earlier.

We start by doing a Buyer’s Consultation with every one of our clients. At this meeting, we will share with you what to expect at every step of the home buying process so there are no surprises.

Additionally, we will start doing several things that will give us a huge advantage throughout this process:

  • Help you develop a buying philosophy
  • Connect you with our lender to get you pre-qualified and/or pre-approved for a loan
  • Set up MLS listing alerts via email or text so you see new listings and listing updates as soon as they hit the MLS
  • Familiarize you with the technology we use to give you an advantage in this competitive market
  • Coach you on how to prepare to look at properties and place an offer when ready

All of these create significant advantages over anyone who is just browsing listings on Redfin or Zillow. The more time we have to strategize and plan with you, the more likely you are to land your dream home.

DO THIS: If you would like to set up a Buyer’s Consultation with one of the agents on our team fill out this 2-minute questionnaire.

2. We don’t expect you to have all the answers before you contact us. Very few buyers know exactly what they want to buy, when they want to buy, and how they’re going to pay for their home until they’re in escrow.

But this uncertainty can often cause buyers to stay in ‘just browsing’ mode for far too long.

We will help you discover answers to these questions with our guidance.

The reality is, we are passionate about helping you find your dream home. Even if it means we’ll be working together for a year or more to make that a reality.

We also get paid very well for what we do, and we get paid the same whether we show you one home or one hundred homes, so don’t be afraid to put us to work for you.

Oh, and did I mention that we love this stuff?

3. You may be closer to being a homeowner than you realize. Many buyers delay talking to an agent because they think they are much farther away from being ready to buy than they actually might be.

Oftentimes, future home buyers are working with assumptions that are not true.

For instance, you may not realize that not all home purchases require a 20% down payment to qualify for a loan. FHA loan programs require as little as a 3.5% down payment to purchase a home.

Or you may find out that you have an unknown collections report from an old unpaid cable bill that is bringing your credit score down, and a payment of $100 to remove this could increase your credit score by 50 or more points.

Or you may see your dream home that you’ve had your eye on for years come on the market before you had planned on buying. Could this information change your timeline?

Whether you think you’re three weeks, three months, or three years away from buying, if you’ve made the decision to buy at some point in the future, it’s always a good idea to at least start the conversation with one of our agents just in case that timeline may be shorter than you think.

4. Experience matters. The process of buying a home is both an art and a science. Having the right team, or should I say ‘The Wright Team’ (sorry, we had to do it) on your side is extremely important.

The combination of knowledge, technology, experience, service, and passion that we bring to every transaction is what makes us the #1 selling team at the #1 selling office in all of Orange County.

We can’t promise that we’ll get every offer accepted. But we get a lot more accepted than most agents.

We can’t promise you won’t experience emotional highs and lows. But we can help you prepare for them, and we can help make sure there are a lot more highs than lows.

We can’t promise that there won’t be any challenges along the way. But we can promise that we’ll navigate you through them with confidence.

At the end of the day, the one thing that we can promise every one of our clients is this. We are true professionals and you matter to us. We will do everything in our power to make your real estate journey one that you share with others for all the right reasons.

So what are you waiting for? Click this link if you’re ready to move from ‘just browsing’ mode to talk with one of the real estate agents from our team to give you the biggest advantage you can get in purchasing a home.

The Wright Team is a team with 30+ professional real estate agents and more than 500 years of combined experience. We are the top-selling team at the #1 selling single-office in all of Orange County. We would love the opportunity to help you find your next dream home. Whether you’re 5 days away from buying, 5 months away from buying, or 5 years away from buying, it’s never too early to start planning with a real estate professional.

If you’d like to set up a 60-minute Buyer’s Consultation so we can show you all the things we do to help our buyers stand out, click this link, or text us at 949.395.8559 to set it up today.

Helpful links

📹 Watch our 3-minute team video to see what makes us so special

📅 Schedule a free Buyer’s Consultation here

🚨 Get listing alerts set up by filling out this 2-minute questionnaire

Get pre-qualified for a loan by answering 6 questions

🏡 View all of our active listings