As military family we move A LOT so today I wanted to take some time and share a few things I’ve learned along the way about moving and more specifically, renting. This is post two of a three part series. Tips and Tricks for Finding and Renting the Perfect Home Long Distance, Top 8 Websites For Finding The Perfect Rental, and Getting The Most Out of Your New Lease: How to Negotiating with a Landlord.
Pros – Zillow is great for finding houses. It allows you to customize and save search information with a variety of very helpful filters including: Price, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, pets, zip code, etc. In addition to this there are two tools that I have found especially helpful, they have a draw function that allows you to circle a specific area or neighborhood to narrow your search further and they will email you a daily/weekly list of houses that match your criteria.
Another pro for Zillow is the app is way, way more functional than the Trulia app.
Cons – If you use Zillow on a variety of devices i.e. laptop, tablet, and smartphone it will not communicate if you’ve already looked at house or if you have hidden or saved a particular listing. Even when you login with your Zillow account. I don’t know why the communication isn’t seamless and it can be very annoying. But as long as you are sticking with one device it works really well.
Pros -Trulia is very similar to Zillow but it has some added features that Zillow does not have. Truila will give you additional information on the neighborhood such as crime scale (red, orange, yellow, and green) and amenities such as nearby banks, restaurants and grocery stores. It will even show you ratings on the neighborhood by other locals.
Cons – The app is terrible and not even worth downloading. You can’t filter your search by pets or by zip code with the app. Two very important features. Also when Trulia.com sends you your daily email they don’t filter based on the area you are looking for. This is especially a hassle when you are moving to a large metropolitan area. You never want to look at homes on the opposite side of the city if you can help it.
3. Spotcrime.com and 4. Crimereports.com
Both of these websites serve the same function but don’t necessarily work in all areas. I’m really not sure why. So I recommend searching in both. I’ve found that if one website doesn’t cover a particular city or area the other will.
They both break down the crimes by type and date. Also both websites offer extended date searches and they both show a current map of registered sex offenders living in or around the neighborhood.
Pros- Google Street View is great for getting the feel of a neighborhood. It allows you to virtually drive a neighborhood. I use this to see the condition of the other homes on the surrounding streets. Are they well taken care of? Are the properties kept clean and free of junk? Is there graffiti? These are all important things to know because it does give you a real world picture of the neighborhood.
Cons- These virtual street tours may not always be current. Especially when a neighborhood is going through a lot of change either from good to bad or more likely from bad to good. So always check the date the neighborhood was last “toured”. It will be listed under the address on the upper left corner of the screen.
Pros – Realtor.com will provide you with other specific information on a property that you may not find on Zillow or Trulia such as specific room measurements, when the property was last sold and what the property taxes are on the home. Neither Zillow or Trulia will provide this information if there is an active rental listing on the property but will provide it any other time.
Cons – The information on room sizes and property sizes is not always accurate. For instance the last house we rented Realtor.com did have the correct measurements for all the bedrooms, but not for the living room or the property size. So take any information you get from this website with a grain of salt and double check information with the landlord.
Pros – City-Data is great for finding out general information if you are unsure of the city you are moving to. The most helpful thing to me is the weather section. Since we are in the military and move around a lot we end up living in lots of different climates. It is always helpful to know what we are getting into next when it comes to the weather.
This will only pertain to other military families.
As we move from city to city with the military our BAH (Basic Allotment for Housing) will change based on the cost of living. For instance it is the lowest in the South and the highest in the Pacific North West. These changes can have a big impact on what kind of house you can afford so always check!
Did one of your favorite home browsing websites not make the list? We’d love to hear from you!
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