Window Shopping for a House

After a year of culling — selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist, donating to Goodwill and other charities, and just tossing stuff out in the garbage — today my husband and I are meeting with a Realtor about putting our house on the market.

pensacola-82825_1280We’re not deciding our next step definitely until we see when the house sells and for how much, but that hasn’t stopped me from window shopping for a beach home via the Internet. It’s possible we’ll only snowbird at the beach in the winter months, but even with that there are ways of virtually window shopping.

My favorite site for looking at homes for sale is Trulia. I can put in price ranges, how many bathrooms and bedrooms I want, location, etc., and it gives me a listing of homes within those parameters. I love to look at the photos, if for no other reason that decorating ideas and, honestly, pretending I’m at the beach basking in the sun and sea breeze instead of freezing my patootie off with single-digit temperatures. I look at primarily the homes within a reasonable price range, but sometimes I take off the maximum price and look at the really expensive places just because I want to see what they look like inside. Unless one of my books is made into the next big blockbuster film, I’m not going to be buying a million-plus-dollar house like this beauty in Destin, Florida. But it sure is fun to tour one virtually. And hey, it can be research for future books. You never know, I might write about a millionaire cowboy at some point.

If we go the snowbirding route and just rent for a few months, my favorite site is Vacation Rental By Owner. Again, it offers the ability to select size, number of rooms, location, etc., and you can virtually tour them. We’ve used VRBO several times while booking beach vacations in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and Orange Beach, Alabama, and been happy with our choices.

Have you ever used either of these sites? Are there others that are good for checking out potential homes, other than looking directly at individual Realtors’ websites? Do you like to browse for your dream home or decorating ideas?



  • Jane says:

    Hello Trish,
    I haven’t used the sites you’ve mentioned. Looking for your dream house is a bit daunting and a decent house here goes for at least $500,000. I do like to browse for decorating ideas to give me some inspiration for updating the apartment.

    • Yeah, some of these places can be really expensive. Honestly, I don’t have to have a big place. My dream is to just have something on the beach, even a small condo with a balcony so I can go out and write while listening to the waves.

  • Helen says:


    One of my daughters is selling her home at the moment and every time she drops in she is showing he houses rpthat she would like on the internet I am not sure where she looks but there have been some really nice ones I tend not to look because there would be too many I would Luke

    Have Fun

    • I don’t know this for sure, but I’d bet there are similar types of sites in Australia, even though they might be called something else. It is fun to look though. It’s a lot like window shopping.

  • flchen1 says:

    I haven’t used those sites, but wow, Trish! I’m sure your feelings must run the gamut as you look at the possibilities! It’s neat that we do have more options to view remotely–hope it’ll give you more information before you see places in person! And may you find the house of your dreams 😀

    • Thanks, Fedora. It is fun to have all these possibilities out there to choose from. Now I just have to cross my fingers that our house sells and for a good price.

  • Shannon says:

    I’m a fan of for looking for apartments and condos in my area, metro DC metro. It sends me an email when there’s more than 3 matches. I then check to see if the condo has lots of light and a good pool. Since I do not move until May, it is a good way of knowing what’s out there before diving in.

    I envy the idea of home on the beach.

    I do a variation on VBRO for Myrtle Beach, but the search is easy since I know exactly which resort I want. (34 water features.) And I always go off season. There’s plenty to do and except for Sunday dinner, the places are not crowded. And everyone seems to know each other.

    I”m dreading the next move since I need to downsize from two bedrooms to one. But it will be worth it to be in a place I like–even though it won’t have a beach. But it will have a nice pool.

  • Amy Conley says:

    Well, I did like looking for houses, but since I found my own house listed, I’m taking a break. And no, my house is not for sale for any reason!

    • Wow, how does that happen? Another cool thing is on sites like Zillow, you can compare your house to others on your street and in your neighborhood — square footage, what they’ve sold for when they sold last, etc.

      • Amy Conley says:

        Zillow is where I found my house listed as a ‘pre-foreclosure’. It is neither in any sort of foreclosure nor for sale for any reason. I guess we are not the first one this has happened to and on there own site it says we can hire a real estaste attorney and sue Zillow.

  • Trish –

    I’ve never used those sites. I don’t usually use the internet just to tour homes – never thought of it, actually. However, once I started it would be hard to quit 🙂

    Never used the VRBO site, however now that my husband is retired perhaps we’ll do the snowbird thing. It sure is an attractive possibility on a cold day like today.

  • Cassondra says:

    Trish, I love looking at homes on the web. I generally use Pinterest–I’m a Pinterest ho–because I’m looking for ideas rather than homes to buy or rent, but honestly I didn’t know about these sites. Now I’m gonna have to go check them out.

    Wow, that Mediterranean is stunning!

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Interesting post, Trish. While I’m not in the market for a home right now, selling will be in future within the next five years. I love driving around neighbors and examining the exteriors and landscaping, however.

    Market prices are really high in our area of CA, not like the beach area, but still …

    • Yeah, I like California, but wow it’s expensive to live there. When I was touring Marin County a few years ago, I kept wondering how anyone could afford to live there.

  • Michelle says:

    So fun! I’m a fan of zillow… I love that you can see the houses from street view, etc. If you need help searching, I’m here for you — I love looking at houses!! 🙂

  • Wow. Trish, love that house in Florida. I absolutely adore Spanish Mission architecture – I lived in Sydney in an apartment block built in 1928 in that style. Great place. There’s not a lot of it in Australia but you can find it if you hunt.

    Good luck with the house move. As you know, we were both clearing out at the same time. I’ve ended up deciding to stay where I am but it was a great exercise downsizing. Feel so much lighter now that I’ve decided what to keep and what to ditch.

  • Trish, congrats on taking the next step in your plan!

    Browsing these sites sounds like a fun way to pass the time. I haven’t used them to look for houses, exactly. I did use Zillow to see if a neighborhood I was considering for a character was in the income bracket I thought it was. The site was very useful for that.