March 28, 2023

How to search for real estate in the USA

Decided to get some new square meters? Have you ever wondered how an ordinary person who starts looking for an apartment, for example, differs from a realtor? Well, first, it is all about experience. And of course, the realtor has an excess to a professional database, a lot of useful contacts and a lot of information that passes by him every day in various messenger channels. 
So if you are ready with the place you are going to start new life you should start the purchase with a preliminary selection of the proposals on the real estate market. We advice to start with local popular portals. The most popular among buyers are:

All the property ads are placed not by the owners, but by realtors on the seller's side and the owners' contacts are not indicated. Realtors fill out an extensive questionnaire and register on the site. Buyers can look through contacts, desired dates and purchase budget. As soon as a new client appears in the system, the realtor receives a notification, and your application will get to the agent who will be the first to respond to it. You can sort ads with the options that are important to you, save your favorite variants and subscribe to updates. You can also submit a request for the selection of an option according to your requirements – realtors will send you a selection themselves.

Types of real estate in the USA

The American market is performed by the following housing options:

  • single family house
  • condo or apartment 
  • townhouse 
  • Co-op

A private house, as a rule, is owned by the family that owns it, and other types of real estate imply the neighborhood of several owners. In this case, the management of housing is assumed by the owners' association. American associations have rights, and they can significantly affect the lives of homeowners.

In the simplest case, they determine the amount of regular payments and expenses that will be covered at their expense (garbage collection, security, cleaning, etc.). However, often the association also decides whether owners can keep dogs, cats and other pets in their homes, while the number, weight and type can be determined these animals. In addition, the association can establish the procedure for renting housing and even decide who can and who cannot become the owner or live in the house.

A cooperative is a special form of ownership, which implies joint ownership of real estate. Each co-owner in the cooperative does not buy a separate apartment, but receives a certain number of shares or a share in the common property corresponding to the value of the apartment.

The purchase of housing belonging to the association has its own characteristics. In particular, you must first apply for membership in the association and pay a fee. In addition, it will be more difficult to get a loan for the purchase of housing in a cooperative, since the approval of the cooperative will be required. This will limit your options both when buying and when selling (since a potential buyer will also have to get approval).

How to search for a realtor in the USA

In the USA, the participation of a realtor in a transaction is optional, but it is recommended. Firstly, in the USA, all realtors have access to a single database of ads (MLS – Multiple listing service), with which you can find all the current offers on the market. Secondly, the realtor's fee in the USA is paid by the seller. The amount of remuneration for his services is immediately indicated in the MLS general realtor database. It turns out that it is even unprofitable for the buyer to refuse his services: he will simply lose an assistant and will not save anything. The realtor will represent your interests all the way from the beginning of the search to obtaining the keys to a new home. That's what he does for the buyer:

  • helps in finding a suitable option and determining the real market value;
  • haggling with the seller to get a better price;
  • helps in the preparation of all documents, the choice of a lawyer, a technical inspector and other specialists necessary in the purchase process.

Real estate activity is licensed by the state. And the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest professional organization in the United States, monitors it. The competence of NAR includes issues of work standards, ethics of realtors and their training. Despite the fact that participation in the organization is optional, it consists of more than a million specialists. Thanks to constant supervision, the real estate business in the USA is extremely transparent: the risks of fraud are minimized.

Who else is involved in the real estate transaction

In addition to a realtor, you may need the services of a mortgage broker, lawyer, accountant, translator. A mortgage broker will select the optimal conditions for a bank loan for you. The lawyer will be engaged in drafting contracts, registering real estate, obtaining a certificate of ownership of real estate. He/she is also responsible for the legal purity of the transaction. You will need an accountant if you plan to rent a house. In this case, you will need to fill out a tax return annually, and it is better to entrust this to a specialist. Also, at the stage of purchase, it will probably be necessary to contact a tax consultant. A realtor will advise you of suitable specialists, but you can also do an independent search.