Kate Middleton and Prince William Go House-Hunting?
It’s a great home buying story: Kate Middleton and Prince William were spotted looking at luxury $5 million homes near Malibu, California. Is Kate Middleton moving to the U.S. with her prince? Is Kate going to spend some time in the U.S. while she waits for her Prince to graduate from his program?
In truth, it’s likely just a new-age house-hunting fairy tale. The staff at Buckingham Palace has not confirmed rumors that Prince William and Kate Middleton have indeed walked through an expensive house or two near Malibu, California or even that they’re buying a home. But assuming that all of the celebrity home-buying websites that reported this tale are wrong, at least two people who look just like the happy couple did a quick off-the-record showing.
One thing is clear: Before they looked in person, Kate Middleton and Prince William (or whoever they are) spent some time shopping online for a house. They weren’t just driving around looking for open houses on an Sunday afternoon.
Shopping Online for a House
One of the biggest changes in the world of real estate over the past decade or so is the ability to find out almost anything you want to know about a house or the neighborhood in which it is located. All you have to do is spend some time online, using Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any of the other search engines. It’s easy to find out about (and plot on a map) homes for sales, neighborhood services, school district boundaries, local shops and restaurants, crime statistics, public transportation systems, and other demographic information. It’s also easy to use Google to view photos of the streets in most major cities in the U.S.
Dozens of websites will help you search for homes for sale, view maps, layouts, blueprints, photos and video of the property and neighborhood.
Did Kate Middleton and Prince William use the Internet to search for a house? Almost certainly they did what upwards of 85 percent of Americans do when deciding to buy a piece of real estate: They went to the Internet and searched for neighborhoods, housing stock, and things to do in their new neighborhood of choice.
There are lots of good reasons to shop online for a house. But you have to be careful:
1. Use only reputable sites. It’s easy to fake information on the Internet. But you’ll cut down on the likelihood that you’ll wind up on a site with fake information if you use only top notch sites to search.
2. Do your due diligence.Just because a real estate site lists a house for sale doesn’t mean it is still actually for sale – or that it ever was for sale. If you find a listing you like on Realtor.com, it’s smart to go to the listing agent’s own site and company site to double-check that the listing still exists. If you want to go further, you can then pick up the phone and verify that the office is a real place, and go online to the state’s department of regulation to make sure the listing agent and brokerage firm licenses are in order.
3. Double check the taxes.With house prices taking a nose-dive, millions of homeowners are contesting their tax bill. You’ll want to verify that the taxes are accurate and find out when you can protest them as well. (Rules differ in by tax assessor.)
4. Do a quick Google search of the property address.If there has been a fire, flood, a murder, or some other major calamity involving the property, you might find an article that discusses it. It’s an easy way to search for additional information. The search may even tell you if the property was previously listed or was the subject of a foreclosure action.
5. Don’t believe everything you see online. It’s easy to fake photos and video on the web. So make time to see your house of choice in person. If the rumors are to be believed, Prince William and Kate MIddleton hopped on a plane to view their neighborhood (and palatial house) of choice. When you find a house you’re serious about, you can do a drive-by showing and then make an appointment to see the whole property, in person.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping online for a house. In fact, it’s a smart way to do a lot of your due diligence. But there are only a few instances where you can safely buy a house sight unseen. More often, you need to walk through the property at least once and do a thorough inspection.