Investing in a home is a big decision. It may be the most expensive and life-altering purchase of your life, and it can be difficult to know where to begin looking for a house. Thankfully, the best home buying websites can help with your search!
No matter what your needs are or where you’re at in your home search, the best real estate websites can give you the confidence to take the next step towards homeownership. Whether you’re house hunting or comparing neighborhoods, these are our picks for the best home buying websites:
- Zillow: Best overall
- Realtor.com: Best for parents
- Trulia: Best for first-time buyers
- Real Estate Witch: Best for real estate info
- Homes.com: Best for comparing homes
- NeighborhoodScout: Best for neighborhood stats
- FSBO.com: Best for FSBO listings
- RealtyTrac: Best for foreclosed properties
- HomeFinder: Best for off-market homes
- Homes for Heroes: Best for service members
A great local agent will also be an invaluable resource when you buy a home. Our friends at Clever Real Estate can connect you with top-performing agents from trusted brokers in your community. And, when you buy with Clever, you could be eligible to get 0.5% cash back from your home purchase!
1. Zillow: Best overall
Zillow is currently the most popular home search site in the U.S.
Zillow is fast, free, and makes it simple for you to filter homes by:
- FSBO (For Sale By Owner) properties
- Special features
- Type of home
You can view important neighborhood information about each property, such as walkability scores, nearby schools, and commute times to local businesses.
Zillow also provides a special “Zestimate” tool that suggests an approximate cost of each home. However, these numbers (along with the other fees Zillow estimates) aren’t always reliable.
2. Realtor.com: Best for parents
Realtor.com can help parents find houses in highly rated school districts with its unique search function. Nearly half of buyers with children under 18 say that it’s important to live in neighborhoods close to great schools.
In addition to search capabilities for elementary, middle, and high schools, Realtor.com reveals a dashboard of information for each home address. You can view home value estimates from three different sources, see how the property has changed over time, browse other active listings in the neighborhood, and more.
One caveat of Realtor.com is that the site only shows properties on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) database. The MLS is a networking service for brokers and real estate agents to share listings or find properties for their clients.
Since FSBO (for sale by owner) sellers need to pay out of pocket to list their homes on the MLS, they sometimes skip this step, meaning you might miss out on FSBO homes with Realtor.com. If you want to buy directly from the owner, a site like FSBO.com is your best bet.
3. Trulia: Best for first-time buyers
Trulia makes the home search easy by displaying neighborhood information along with properties for sale or rent.
There are numerous filters you can use for your searches, including:
- Crime levels
- Median age ranges
- Nearby restaurants
- Trulia’s home affordability scores
Setting the “crime filter” on Trulia will highlight areas in a community where crime is the lowest and highest to help you gauge the safety of potential neighborhoods.
One caveat is that Trulia is run by Zillow, so both websites will show you the same listings. The only difference is that Trulia offers more neighborhood information compared to its parent site.
4. Real Estate Witch: Best for saving money
Real Estate Witch is one of the best home buying websites that offers extensive information about every step of the home buying and selling processes. All of our content is thoroughly researched, reviewed, and written plainly to clarify real estate jargon.
Our core mission is to increase transparency for home buyers and sellers. The real estate industry can be confusing and intimidating, but our informative articles and original research reports will demystify every step of the journey.
Furthermore, Real Estate Witch is partnered with Clever Real Estate, a free agent matching company that helps buyers and sellers save money. Clever connects you with top real estate agents in your area from leading brokers, like Keller Williams and RE/MAX.
Best of all? Eligible buyers can save 0.5% with Clever’s Cash Back program!
5. Homes.com: Best for comparing homes
Homes.com lists numerous types of properties for rent and for sale. This real estate search tool can show you single-family houses, apartments, townhomes, and even mobile homes in your specified region.
Despite its large database of listings, Homes.com isn’t overwhelming to navigate. It’s simple to filter results based on standard criteria, such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, as well as more specific features, like walk-in closets.
The best feature of Homes.com is its side-by-side comparison feature. You can easily compare properties based on similar houses in the area, or compare places from entirely different cities, all from a comprehensive dashboard.
Homes.com also lets you save your searches so you can easily return to listings you previously looked at.
6. NeighborhoodScout: Best for neighborhood stats
If you want as much information as possible about a specific area, NeighborhoodScout has an astounding amount of data to pore over. It offers reports for any neighborhood in the U.S. with over 600 data elements, predictive analytics for that region, and exclusive insights for potential home buyers.
If you already know what type of city you’d like to live in, you also have the option to search for neighborhoods according to highly personalized filters.
However, NeighborhoodScout is not free. Prices begin at $29.99 per report, or you can select one of four subscription plans, which start at $39.99 per month (if you select an annual subscription…if you choose to pay on a month-by-month basis, you’ll need to pay $49.99).
7. FSBO.com: Best for FSBO listings
Similar to Zillow and Homes.com, FSBO.com allows you to search for properties based on location, price, number of bedrooms, and other standard features. The key difference is that FSBO.com only lists homes and properties that are for sale by owner.
If you’re interested in purchasing a FSBO property, you can search for them at no cost for seven days. After this trial period, you’ll need to pay $39.80 monthly to keep searching.
Buying directly from a seller might sound like a good deal at first. When it’s done correctly, it can help both you and the seller save thousands on real estate commissions. However, keep in mind you’ll be personally responsible for handling negotiations, filling out paperwork, scheduling inspections, and all of the other essential steps before closing.
There are also risks of buying directly from someone who may not have any real estate experience. They might be reluctant to fix any issues, update their house, or pay for your agent’s commission at closing (if you decide to use an agent).
8. RealtyTrac: Best for foreclosed properties
RealtyTrac describes itself as “the #1 resource in the nation for information about foreclosures, MLS listings, short sales, auctions, and more.”
If you use this site, you can save as many searches as you’d like for free. This feature makes it easy to compare various listings and monitor market trends over time.
For those who want to stay ahead of other eager buyers, there’s also a paid subscription service that gives you exclusive access to foreclosure addresses, loan histories, and dates and locations of auctions.
Foreclosed properties often come at a great bargain compared to other houses in the area. However, they’re typically sold “as is,” which can mean anything from slightly outdated to horrifyingly dirty. In any case, prepare to take on several DIY projects!
9. HomeFinder: Best for off-market homes
At first glance, HomeFinder seems to offer the same general tools covered by Zillow and Homes.com. Like these sites, HomeFinder provides filters to help yousearch for properties based on price, type of home, or location.
The thing that sets Homefinder apart is its unique “off market” search feature.
An off-market home means that the property isn’t currently for sale or was sold without being listed on the MLS. For example, a real estate agent might be able to sell directly to one of their clients if the house meets the buyer’s criteria.
Buying a home off market can be a great deal for home buyers. There’s less competition, which means buyers can often negotiate a lower price.
10. Homes for Heroes: Best for service members
Homes for Heroes is dedicated to helping firefighters, law enforcement officers, members of the military (active, reserve, and veteran), teachers, and healthcare and EMS professionals through any real estate transaction.
According to the organization’s records, heroes save an average of $2,400 when they buy or sell a home with Homes for Heroes.
As an additional bonus, this organization partners with businesses across the country to negotiate special deals for their heroes. When eligible heroes shop at these specific stores, they can get discounts and other perks.
Find your next home
Using the best home buying websites is a great starting point, but if you’re ready to find your dream home, Clever can help. Clever connects you with top-rated agents from local brokers to help you close quickly, and eligible buyers can get 0.5% of the purchase price back with Clever Cash Back.
If you need a little more help buying a home, check out the following content for more guidance.
Here’s How to Get a Home Buyer Rebate (And Save Thousands): In some states, you can get a home buyer rebate or cash back after purchasing a home. Find out how it works and if you could be eligible for a buyer rebate once you close on your dream home.
Redfin vs. Zillow: Estimators, Listing Portal & Agents: Redfin and Zillow are both listing sites that estimate property values and suggest realtors for buyers. Learn which website will be the most helpful for you in this quick guide.
What Is a Buyer’s Agent?: Although you don’t need an agent to buy a house, a great buyer’s agent can make the entire process go smoothly. Find out what a buyer’s agent does and how they can help you by checking out this article.
FAQs about home buying websites
What are the best home buying websites for first-time buyers?
Trulia and Homes.com each offer valuable information that first-time buyers will appreciate. Trulia gives buyers in-depth property information and detailed neighborhood data, including reviews from local residents. Homes.com has a great side-by-side comparison tool that makes it easy for buyers to see how properties stack up against one another.
What are the most accurate home value websites?
As of 2021, Redfin, Zillow, and Realtor.com are the most accurate home value sites. Learn more about how these websites work in this post.
What are the best home buying websites to find FSBO or foreclosure properties?
FSBO.com and RealtyTrac are great resources if you want to buy directly from the owner or buy a foreclosed home. If you want more options, other FSBO websites are covered in our post here!