Online house shopping is like modern-day window shopping for tech-savvy adults. Instead of waiting to set up an appointment for an in-person viewing, many potential buyers turn to online listings to get first impressions of available properties. Real estate listings on the internet can be a useful shopping tool for buyers, as long as they are sure to keep some realistic information in mind.

Agents Paint Their Properties in the Best Light

Although more real estate agents are turning to detailed listings that include 3-D renderings or live social media streaming tours, listings provided on the internet are still intended to present the property in the best light possible. Typically, each room has been professionally photographed in ideal lighting conditions and at an angle so that it appears spacious. Keeping a healthy realism in mind can help reduce disappointment when you see the property in person. Odd layouts, messy neighbors and road proximity are all items that could be deal-breakers in person but usually aren't seen during online house shopping.

You Can Miss a Great Opportunity

The flip side of getting falsely lured into falling in love with a house that doesn't meet expectations is that online house hunting can also lead to overlooking a diamond in the rough. Sometimes the online listing can't quite do a property justice and you need to see it in person to appreciate it. This is especially true if the house is in the location you need and in a neighborhood you love but needs some cosmetic repairs that are a real turn off in the pictures.

Sites Can Be Slow to Update

Depending on which sites you choose to conduct your research, you may be surprised to find that the houses you are interested in aren't actually available for purchase at all. Some sites are notorious for delayed updates, particularly if the house is a short sale or foreclosure. Before you get your heart set on a particular listing, make sure to check with a realtor to see if it is still for sale or if it is already pending with another buyer.


When you are house hunting, online house shopping can be a useful tool as long as you keep your expectations realistic. Using internet listings, you can often narrow down or find examples of the types of homes you are interested in purchasing. This can save you and your realtor time in the long run.