Real estate is big business on the
Internet. More homes are listed online than ever before. And that's leading
to stiffer competition between real estate web sites, as well as greater
scrutiny of advertising claims. While that's good news for consumers, what's
the real message here? Actually, there are two messages for both homebuyers
and sellers trying to choose a web site: 1 - Bigger isn't always better, and
2 - There's no substitute for research.
The bottom line is what type of experience
does the web offer the homebuyer? Is the web site easy to navigate? Can you
find homes in the neighborhoods you're interested in?
Shopping online is a great shortcut to
getting the essential information about home listings, sometimes directly
from the seller, although you may have to wade through several sites to get
there. Obviously, you'll have to visit the home in person to get all the
facts and a feel for the home.
One of the major advantages of working from
your PC is anonymity. That's where the computer can insulate the buyer from
pressure sales tactics. There's no real estate agent filtering the
information or pressuring you to buy. Naturally, once you make any contact
with an agent, you lose your anonymity and become a "sales prospect." But
you get to choose when and where to approach the agent or home seller. But
just remember that e-mail is a very impersonal medium. It's easier to
misunderstand, or be offended, when you're not facing a person directly or
talking over the phone.
By Cliff McCreedy