If you're thinking about buying or selling a home, a good place to start your search is on your home computer.
A recent study by California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) finds that Internet homebuyers are twice as satisfied with home buying experience than traditional buyers.
The C.A.R., which conducted landmark study entitled "Internet vs. Traditional Buyers" in fourth quarter 2000, found that Internet home buyers typically find their Realtors online, while traditional buyers usually find a Realtor through happenstance - Realtor 'farms' their neighborhood or they call to get information on a "For Sale" sign.
According to study, traditional homebuyers looked at 15.1 homes with a Realtor before making a purchase, while Internet home buyers looked at only 7.9 homes with a Realtor prior to buying.
The reason, says Gary Thomas, C.A.R. president, is that Internet buyers spend more time doing their "homework" on Internet. Internet buyers spent 6.3 weeks researching real estate market vs. traditional buyers who spent just 2.2 weeks prior to contacting a Realtor.
"By time Internet buyers contact a Realtor, they have a good understanding of what they want -they know where they want to live. They've investigated neighborhoods and they know how much they can afford and what their mortgage options are," Thomas said. The C.A.R. study found that, overall, Internet homebuyers are "completely satisfied" with home buying process (96%) vs. traditional home buyers (44%).
Internet homebuyers are also more "completely satisfied" with their Realtors (73%) than traditional buyers (34%). Internet buyers typically purchased a more expensive home ($403,752) than did traditional buyers ($321,950). And, not surprisingly, Internet buyers achieved a higher level of education than traditional buyers. Internet buyers contacted an average 4.6 Web sites (excluding mortgage Web sites) as part of their home-buying process.
The most popular real estate portals are Realtor.com and HomeAdvisor.com. These sites provide valuable information on home buying and selling process, along with all homes listed on national Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Internet buyers can view homes in any community they wish online, 24 hours a day. They can remain anonymous and not feel pressured by a real estate agent. But if they want a home's address, that's another matter. That's main drawback to national sites: addresses of homes in San Diego (or elsewhere) are not provided. The Internet homebuyer will have to contact a real estate agent to obtain them.
One real estate portal that does provide addresses of all San Diego County homes on MLS is www.HouseRebate.com. In addition, site provides information on home buying and selling process as well as discounts to homebuyers and sellers in form of cash rebates.
Homebuyers can also find additional listings that aren't on MLS by perusing large national sites such as Century21.com, ColdwellBanker.com and Prudential.com. These sites show their own listings including addresses, but not other broker's addresses. Through power of Internet, knowledge base has switched to consumer, and with that knowledge comes power: power to demand discounts on real estate commissions. Previously, this knowledge base was only available to licensed Realtors. Now, homebuyers can expect to be rewarded for their online time spent researching potential properties. At HouseRebate.com site, for example, buyers simply register and then they can view addresses of every home, condominium and residential income property in San Diego area on their computer screen. They'll see all specs previously available only to licensed Realtors, along with photos and asking prices. Homebuyers can specify city, Zip code, price range, number of bedrooms and baths, size of garage, square footage of house and square footage of lot. They can also check off as many options as they would like such as pool, den, bonus room or storage. After buyer submits a request, they can view a list of homes online with complete information, including photographs, that meet their criteria. They'll also receive daily automatic e-mail notification of new listings that meet their criteria. They can drive by and inspect from street any property without pesky presence of a Realtor. Homebuyers will probably get a call from one of site's Realtors, but they can easily tell them, "don't call us, we'll call you" when and if they're ready. And, regardless of what online site they use, homebuyers can choose any real estate firm to continue their transaction, including traditional brick-and-mortar firms.