Houston House Search Tips
There're thounsands of articles or books about how to find and buy a house. Har.com, the Houston Association of Realtors web site, is where you search for houses in Houston. The clever tips below supplement what you already know and allow you to use the site more efficiently. Only basic computer literacy is required.
Are you tired of picking HAR MLS Area, List Price range, and many other options every time you do a search and can't bookmark the page or save your setting somehow? Here's a trick to bookmark the HAR search so you don't need to go through the process every time (and the search will really search every time you go there; it's not saved as a static web page!) Enter the following URL into your browser address
This long URL is actually cut short from a manual search that would go through so many tedious drop-down selections. Let me break down the parameters in the URL as follows and you customize it to your need so that you can bookmark it. Lack of explanation on the right means it's self-explanatory.
|class=1||1 for single family home; 2 for townhouse/condo; 7 for residential lease|
|for_sale=1||For sale or for lease|
|bedroom_num=3||minimum 3 bedrooms|
|full_bath_num=2||minimum 2 baths|
|garage_num=2||minimum 2 car garage|
|sort=LISTING%5FPRICE%20DESC||sort by listing price in descending order|
Isn't it nice to have total control over the numbers, like my listing price max $76,000 instead of $75,000 or $80,000 in the hardcoded range on the web page you have to choose? The last param rowcnt=99 is a hack I added. Setting rowcnt to a big number (99 at max) allows your search result page to show all results on one page so you don't need to click 2, 3, ..., or NEXT for each page, especially when you want to narrow down to a small price range within your large result set.
I'm only listing the common parameters. How do I find them? Just do a normal search and move mouse over any of the 2 or 3 page number and figure out the pattern.
There's even more benefit in saving all search results (up to either 99 or 100) to one page. Once the page is fully loaded, you can save the full page text to a text file and the next day you do the same and compare the two days' searches to see if there's difference. In Internet Explorer, you go to File -> Save As -> set "Save as type" as "Text File (*.txt)" and save it to (say) 1117.txt at c:\temp. The next day you save it to 1118.txt. Then go to DOS (Command Console) and type
cd /d c:\temp
fc 1117.txt 1118.txt
It takes a few seconds to get used to the format of the file compare result but you get the idea. If you're even more computer savvy, schedule a job to do this once a day and email you the difference.
How do you find the address of a house on har.com if the seller does not show it? Every house has a subdivision. Suppose you don't want to make a trip to the neighborhood and look for the house that looks like the one in the picture. All you need to do is check the map and find all the streets in the subdivision. Put in each street into HAR address search to see if there's a house. Most will return "Search Result: ( 0 )" or show pictures of other houses. But eventually you'll find the picture of the house, displaying no address for it on the web page! If you must get the house's street number, well, you have to know all the valid numbers for the street and try each one. If the street is short, guess some big numbers to pinpoint the west / south edge if the street numbers ascend going west / south (most Houston streets do) on Google Map. Then do the same for the other edge. Put each number within the range with the street name on HAR address search until you see the house picture.
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