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Searching For A Home? This Might Help.

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to hamptons@curbed.com.

For our first visit to Curbed University, we're getting straight down to business: Buying. We'll be covering other topics throughout the week?renting, mortgages, selling, neighborhoods, et al?but this should hopefully provide you with some insight to help you start navigating the sales market in the Hamptons. Of course, there are primarily two type of homebuyers out here (year round residents and summer visitors), so we'll be doing our best to tailor this info to both.

Where should you buy?

Summer home buyers: The best bit of advice we've come across with respect to beginning your search is that it might be in your best interest to rent for a few seasons before making the plunge. Each town has a different vibe and potential homebuyers will benefit from discovering just what that is on their own. You may enjoy a day trip to Montauk, but owning a summer home out there is a completely different beast. Same goes for the rest of the towns, villages and hamlets on the South Fork. Get to know what makes each town disctinct. If you have the luxury of waiting (and aren't worried that market is going to rebound dramatically), figuring out just where you can see yourself in two, five or even ten years is a safe bet.

Year round residents: Since you already have an idea of what its like to live out here full time, factors like school district (if you have kids), property taxes and price point are all going to play a part in your decision. You probably already have an idea of where you'd want to buy if the stars align, so no need to go to in depth here.

Where should you begin your search?

There are a handful of exceptional resources that interested buyers have at their immediate disposal. They are by no means perfect, but they will give you a good place to start.

Hamptons Real Estate Online: If you can forgive the Flash interface and early 2000 design of the HREO.com, it's home to a wealth of information. It allows you to search listings via combinations of location, price point, amenities, brokerage house and whatever else you can think of. Results are sortable by price and by when they were added to the market. The latter comes in handy when you want to keep up-to-date what's new. Almost all brokerages on the East End use this site to promote their listings.

StreetEasy: If you're familiar with our PriceSpotter feature, we'll let you in on a little secret: This is where we get that info. Like HREO, this site's biggest draw is its search feature. However, it also keeps track of things like time on the market, pricing history and last sale date. In addition to being easier to navigate than HREO, it also has features like a discussion board, a snapshot of recent site data and an open house calendar. Most, but not all, East End brokerages use this.

Multiple Listing Service Long Island: MLSLI for short, this is the Long Island-specific offshoot of the Real Estate heavyweight, the MLS. While not Hamptons heavy (in fact, most Hamptons listings won't be found here), it does occasionally get the East End property. We've noticed that the South Fork homes that are featured here tend to be on the less expensive (not to be confused with cheap) end of the spectrum.

Zillow: Their Zestimates® are still way off for homes out here, but this site does a great job providing a snapshot of all homes for sale within a particular area. Enter in a zip code, press "GO" and bam! Every home currently on the market will be highlighted on a map. The search results can be narrowed down even further with criteria like price range and number of bedrooms.