Buying real estate? There are so many considerations here. Most people begin their search on-line using the dominant real estate websites, like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia (same ownership as Zillow). This does help the process because you are able to put together a collection of homes that interest you and can send them to your Realtor and I (hopefully me) can gather the necessary information and orchestrate the showings.
Please know that Zillow/Trulia (Zoolia) very often have data that just doesn't make sense. I often get requests for listing information for homes that haven't been for sale in 10 years. Or foreclosures that are not listed in the MLS. Or valuation assessments that completely ignore actual market data. So while it's a good search interface, it is not the gospel. Allow me to assist you in your search.
You can simply provide me with some basic information and I will scour the MLS to find properties that might work for you - as well as set up a weekly notification for you to continually receive listings that come on the market that match your criteria. Here are some elements that I can help you search for; the obvious, bedrooms and bath, square footage, flood zones (Zoolia can't do this), rental income ratios and history, location preferences, age, etc.
When it's time to make an offer, I will help you determine a starting point by examining past sales data and current listing inventory so that we can support whatever offer you make. In this market, there is almost always negotiation, so don't expect the seller to accept your first offer. When the seller makes a counter offer to you, please come back with a prompt response, more on this below.
Selling Real Estate? Again, regarding values, do not rely on Zoolia for the reasons mentioned above. Allow me to do the research and provide you a meaningful evaluation of your property. Pricing really is the key. Realtors can get a bad wrap in that we "always want to lower the price". The truth of the matter is, it's always about the price. Everything will sell at the right price, everything. Homes priced too high will not sell - or - any offer received will seem low to the seller because the list price is higher than the market.
My advice to the seller; no matter what the offer price, please always respond with a counter offer, and in a timely manner. Having no response, or taking several days to respond, is just not respectful to all the people involved. The goal is to sell the property, of course, so keeping the momentum moving forward is key. This can be accomplished with a response within a day if possible - and with a counter offer. Both parties appreciate the respect and professionalism of a prompt response. Coming back with nothing or taking several days to respond only makes the other party frustrated and less likely to negotiate.
Discuss the offer with your Realtor (hopefully me) and determine where that offer is in terms of the range of value that I established in the property valuation. If the offer is reasonable, but just not as high as you would like, make a counter offer with in the range of value and let me support your counter offer using the data provided to you. If the offer is just far too low, and lower than our value range, remain positive (because it is an offer - someone does want your property), and respond with a value in our range and let me support it. Since we know what our valuation range is, we should be able to respond fairly quickly.
Hopefully, these simple tactics will make the buying or selling process a little easier and lead to a successful negotiation!