Not so very long ago, you used to have to go into the estate agents and find the lists of properties that they had for sale or wait for the weekly local newspaper and wade through the listings there, which pretty much just had a picture of the property, location and a couple of key stats.
Contrast that with the modern world whereby at a click of a button, or a few, you can be browsing from the comfort of your home all the properties in a given location listed on an estate agent's site, or possibly on an aggregrate site that lists properties from all agents and more besides.
When using a property website, do take a few moments to understand the search options. These are usually quite intuitive but they can have certain options defaulted that you may not know about, so understand how it refines your search. For instance, the default may be that it searches for homes within five miles of your area, so there may be ones you'd be perfectly happy with six miles away that get left out and therefore your search is unnecessarily refined: therefore it is usually worth clicking on the 'advanced' search option - which most property sites have these days - so that you can both understand and set all the parameters so you know exactly what you are going to get, and not get, in your search results.
Now that you've mastered the search facility, you should try a variety of searches and note what your search parameters are for future reference (or for checking on other sites). When viewing a listing, remember that there is often a floor plan in addition to the pictures and descriptions, so do take a look at that.
Not all estate agents in an area list their properties on the search websites, so do take some time to find out who the main estate agents in an area are (simply driving around and noting down the names on boards is usually good enough) and then look at their sites too to see which ones list their properties and which don't. Also bear in mind it may depend on the owner of the property as sometimes you can request not to have your property listed on aggregrate sites but only on that of the estate agent.
Also if you register your interest with estate agents in person then they usually send you information on new properties regularly, so that can be another useful way to find out what is on the market.
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