Finding the perfect home can be hard.
You have to balance that list of “must-haves”, your budgetary constraints, your desired location, distance from work, quality of school districts, and a whole slew of other factors and features.
Throw in a limited supply of housing inventory, and it can be pretty difficult to find a home that works – let alone one you love enough to buy.
Fortunately, there’s one handy tool that can help make this needle-in-a-haystack hunt just a little bit easier on you and your family: An MLS search.
What is an MLS Search?
MLS, which stands for Multiple Listing Service, is a comprehensive list of every home that’s currently for sale with a licensed real estate agent. It covers all cities, counties, and states within the US...and you can get info on virtually any property.
MLS listings get super detailed, too. In addition to showing you the price (and photos) of the home in question, they also contain info on square footage, appliances, flooring, yard features, and even neighborhood amenities and local school info.
Essentially, an MLS search can reveal everything you need to evaluate a property. With a few quick taps on the keyboard, you can find homes in your desired area, check out their features and amenities, figure out what your estimated mortgage payment would be on it, and determine if it’s a house worth looking into. It’s an extremely convenient, easy, and helpful service – especially for first-time homebuyers or those buying in a new or unfamiliar area – and it can help you narrow down properties that are worth touring or contacting an agent about.
Where to Do an MLS Search
Technically, the MLS is accessible only by licensed real estate agents and other pros in the industry, but many real estate sites can offer you snippets of MLS details with just a quick search.
Most realty firms and agencies also offer their own unique MLS search tool. Here at Keller Williams New Braunfels, for example, we offer an MLS property search right here on our website. It contains all our listings in the San Antonio, New Braunfels, Boerne, Schertz and surrounding areas, so you can easily find nearby properties that meet your needs and fit your budget.
You can also enlist a Realtor to help you find the right MLS listings. Just schedule a consultation (or call or email an agent), and give them details about what type of home you’re looking for. This should include the size of the home, your desired location, your budget, and any other must-have amenities that you and your family would like to have. An agent can typically pull these searches in a matter of minutes, and once you find a few properties that pique your interest, they can also schedule a showing with the listing Realtor so you can see the home in person and evaluate it for yourself.
How to Find the Perfect MLS Properties
If you choose to use an online agency MLS search like ours, there are a few tips you should keep in mind as you go about your search:
1. Start with location. Begin your search by typing in (or selecting) the city or zip code you want to live in. Most tools will let you select more than one if you’re not quite sure yet. Some will even let you select a radius or certain area on a map, depending on which tool you’re using.
2. Set constraints for pricing. You likely have a strict budget in mind. You may even have a prequalification letter from your mortgage lender, letting you know what your maximum mortgage can be. Use these numbers to set a price range for your MLS search – a minimum and a maximum. Once you input these, you’ll have a full list of within-budget, perfectly-located properties that fit the bill.
3. Use the filters to your advantage. Most tools will come with loads of filters, so you can narrow down properties with absolutely everything you want and need. The most important ones are the number of bedrooms and bathrooms your family will require, as well as the property type you’re looking for (condo, single family home, multi-family home, townhome, etc).
And that's not all! Here are just a few more filters you may want to use in your own MLS search:
- Min/max year – What is the earliest year your home can be built in? The latest? Essentially, how old (or new) of a home are you willing to buy?
- Square Footage and Lot Size – How big does the home need to be? How much land and yard do you want?
- Schools – Is there a certain school district you want your children to attend? This may require a little research first, so be sure to check out local ISDs before using this filter.
- Parking – What sort of parking would you like your home to have? A covered carport? A multi-car garage? A gated lot?
- HOA – Are you willing to pay HOA dues? If so, how much per month or per year?
- Listing Age – Do you want to latest homes to hit the market, or are you willing to look at properties that have been listed for a while? Remember, if they’ve been up for a few months, sellers may be more willing to negotiate on pricing and closing costs. It could save you some cash.
- Extras – Some tools will let you filter by extra property features, too, like pools, waterfront locations, neighborhood parks or playgrounds, or even the name of the subdivision. You may even be able to look for listings with upcoming open houses. This can be great if you’re planning a trip to the area and want to get a look at some properties while you’re in town.
Using the right filters is the key to finding the perfect property. They help you narrow down your search in every way possible, giving you a detailed, comprehensive look at any homes that may fit your family’s needs and budget.
Want to Do an MLS Search?
If you want to use an MLS search to find your dream New Braunfels property, we’re here to help. Check out our online property search tool, and filter by size, age, price, neighborhood, city, school district and much, much more. You can even arrange the listings from newest to oldest, lowest price to highest price, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
You can also get in contact with any Keller Williams New Braunfels agent, and we’ll do a customized MLS search on your behalf. Just tell us your preferences and financial limitations, and we’ll give you a comprehensive listing of all local properties that meet your needs. If you like one of them, we can even schedule a tour of the home whenever it’s convenient for you!