Over the past 10 years, home buyers have enjoyed the ability to search homes for sale in almost any community in the nation through a wide variety of web sites. Among the most popular are Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Front Door, Redfin, Yahoo, and Craigs List. There are hundreds of other sites, including multiple listing services, and hundreds of thousands of individual agent web sites with this search capacity. Anyone with a computer, ipad, or smart phone can look at homes 24/7, and be innundated with information. Mapping prograns in these websites can give you the proximity to churchs, schools, parks, and even your favorite fast food restaurant and coffee shop. The amount of pure data can be overwelming, if not, thoroughly confusing. This process is extremely valuable. Real estate agents have use this technology for years to select properties to show a buyer which meets their defined criteria. The Internet has revolutionized just about everything we buy, from books, electronics and other consumer goods, to food and clothing. What separates real estate from this group, is the inability to return a house for a refund after the purchase has been made. Believe it or not, during periods of strong seller's markets, people actually buy real estate sight unseen!
What the Internet fails to do for real estate, is to answer some of the most important questions buyers should ask. In my Oregon Coast community of Florence, we are fortunate to have a wide range of housing options, ranging from small bungalows in town priced around $100,000, to magnificent ocean or lake front estates priced over $1,000,000. Even within a narrow price range of say, $250-$300,000, the selection and diversity is large. For many residents, the biggest factor to consider is our coastal weather. Temperatures and wind velocity and direction vary dramatically, even within a small area. For buyers wanting to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, this is extremely important. I have yet to come accross a real estate web site with this kind of information.
A well informed, real estate professional, will fill in all of that information missing on the web. By all means, use the technology for information. Use your Realtor for knowledge, experience, and guidance.