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Searching for Real Estate Using the 'Net?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the find-your-dream-home-online dept.

The Internet 242

digThisXL asks: "We've all used the Internet to search for real estate at one time or another. But has the 'net truly become an effective tool to search for real estate? Are we going to be stuck with using real estate agents forever? I have found HomeSeekers to provide nice maps; Realtor.Com and the Michigan Multiple Listing Service provide up-to-date listings; but there doesn't seem to be a definitive search site! What are the best ways your readers have discovered to uncover those hidden gems?" There's also (obviously) Realty.Com (no confusion there), as well, but I've never used it and happened into it one day. What do you folks think of these sites? If you have local real estate sites that you know of (like the Michigan site listed by the submittor), then please share -- another Slashdot reader who lives close to you may be asking this same question.

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How about for real estate? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#150899)

Just input your preferred GPS coordinates and a radius and it lists all houses for sale sorted by price, sq. ft., etc.

Realtors do Occasionally serve a purpose... (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#150904)

For the first-time buyer, a good realtor can be immensely helpful. There's tons of paperwork and bureaucracy involved, and unless you've really done your homework, a realtor can be quite helpful. And if you're new to the area, there's plenty about prospective neighborhoods that the internet will never reveal, and you need an experienced realtor to help clue you in.

Also, in a tight market, a good percentage of places will be sold the first day they get listed, and will never make it to the web.

I should qualify that we used a buyer's broker -- in other words, he worked for us, and helped us to find a place, and wasn't trying to sell us a house he was listing. This is a change from the old-fashioned realtor who was really only working for the seller, but would claim to have your interests in mind. (This isn't to say there aren't plenty of worthless realtors or buyer brokers out there...)

For the experienced and knowledgable buyer or seller, a realtor is probably not necessary. But for someone new to the process, it would be very difficult to get by without one. Just do your homework and interview any prospective agents until you find one you like. It worked for us.

Ziprealty is great (2)

mattdm (1931) | more than 13 years ago | (#150910)

My wife and I just used them ( [] ) to purchase a condo in Boston. We were very happy with the whole process -- we had a lot more control over what we were doing than we would have with a conventional broker (since we got to go over the actual MLS information), and when we wanted to go out to see actual places, the agent was very nice and helpful. Totally recommended.

And the 1% rebate doesn't hurt!

Re:Some things just don't work on the 'net (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 13 years ago | (#150913)

What advantage does a realtor have in spending time (and thus money) to put ads up on the internet?

My spouse and I just (two days ago) sold our house [] , and our realtor told us that close to 80% of their clients came to them and asked to see houses that they had found on the net. He said it was well worth the money to list the house (and get the IPix shots).

It's also great for us, since we're moving to the other side of the continent [] . We can pick some examples of houses we like, and give the MLS numbers to our buying agent, and save a lot of time by not looking at houses that don't fit our needs/wants.

local mls sites are best (5)

astrashe (7452) | more than 13 years ago | (#150915)

I used to work on real estate web sites.

Most local MLSs (multiple listing services) have sites that are open to the public. Here in Chicago, the site is called

Although MLSs aren't national, they tend to be the most complete databases around. But sometimes there isn't a single MLS you can use. I think there are something like 20 MLSs in Cleveland, and I'm pretty sure that at least parts of Manhattan don't have one at all. So depending on where you are, you might have some luck with your local newspaper's site.

It also makes sense to look at the company specific sites. Most towns have one or two large players who control most of the listings -- searching their sites will turn up most of the stuff you're interested in.

In order to understand the situation, you have to start with the fact that Realtors make their money in large part from their privilaged access to MLS systems. If you want to sell your house getting listed in the MLS is important, and if you want to do that, you have to pay a Realtor.

And on the flip side, a great deal of the profits from the business come from selling things like mortgages to home buyers. That's why you see companies like GMAC running their own real estate companies.

How does this affect the web? Well, in a universe where MS's Home Advisor functions as a national real estate marketing database, MS gets to sell the banner ads to the mortgage companies. Large realtors want to keep control over the customer -- they want to steer him or her to their own mortgage company. So the national aggregator web sites like and Home Advisor were seen as threats.

Just because the rise of the web has rendered the proprietary systems of the past obsolete technically doesn't mean that Realtors want to give up their leverage. None of the 800 lb. gorillas in the current dynamic have an interest in an efficient web based system where everyone has equal access to the market.

The big companies definitely saw things like Home Advisor as a real threat. And they've done what they can to block it.

So why do the aggregators exist at all? Well, MLSs are run by local boards of realtors. And those guys tend to be dominated by small realtors who have lots of votes. Coldwell Banker might sell 40% of the houses in your town, but they probably get pushed around a bit on the local realty board by small companies with a few offices at most. And those small companies user their votes to allow the MLS to sell all of its listings to the and's of the world.

There are an awful lot of complicated power struggles going on behind the scenes.

The long and the short of it is that an open, efficient web based marketplace for homes is only slightly more likely to happen than open, efficient, online sales of GM cars. Too many people with too much money and clout will lose if it happens.

Free Advertisements. (1)

juuri (7678) | more than 13 years ago | (#150916)

So which slashdot editor is looking for a house and expecting a good deal from one of the sites?

This is without a doubt the most pathetic AskSlashdot in over 24 hours.

I don't know about real estate (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 13 years ago | (#150918)

but when it came to finding someone to put a new roof on the house these guys [] did a great job.

Actually it's a natural (2)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 13 years ago | (#150919)

We did a job busting the local real estate association hq from Novell to NT several years ago and what with MLS etc they are ALREADY highly networked and databased - it's just a matter of putting up a web front end on it. For searching out of town it's a dream come true, or just for 'searching' (pattern matching) in general - you don't have to subscribe to out of town papers to get the classifieds, make long distance calls, completely trust some agents judgement to find what YOU want. Nobody is going to close deals over a web form, unless it's securing a property with a credit card # untill the agent can be contacted, but it is sure handy for seeing what's out there. I wish more automobiles (local) were listed online.

unanimous no (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 13 years ago | (#150926)

I moved out to california about a year ago. I went through teh usual lines got a job an the second task was finding a house. I tried teh usual,,, and local pages, . like, such like that. there were many listings but what I realized was that I was looking at a very small portion of what was actually listed. even newspaper website when you search there classifieds, in some cases you get directed to rent sites and not the actual classifieds. anyone who limits themselves to just the net is really limiting their prospects, and in my expereince the only firms which place stuff on the web are large developers with huge overhead, ie more cost.

There is a human element in real estate... (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 13 years ago | (#150927)

... that is hard to defeat. Realtors tend to not list hot properties so that they can sell them to their preferred customers (mainly people who buy investment properties but also for friends that they know are looking, family, ect).

Additionally, sold houses will stay listed. Why? Because when you inquire about a place that is sold, they can then make a pitch to you to buy another place after they "sadly" inform you that your place of interest is no longer available.

Sadly, this is a fact of life.

I found my house on-line. (1)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 13 years ago | (#150928)

I work in San Francisco, and I telecommute from Tampa Florida. I found my Tampa house on-line from San Francsico using The agent had posted a 'virtual tour' that included some horridly distoreed 360 degree views, but otherwise the listing was very accurate and useful. I had my family check it out and after that I flew out to see it personally. Three weeks later I signed the papers and moved in.

All in all, it was a pretty good experience.

Accuracy of Online Data (2)

Royster (16042) | more than 13 years ago | (#150929)

"It must be true, I read it on the Internet!"

A few weeks ago, HUD added some new houses to its listing of mortgage foreclosures that would be coming available. An error had them list my address as available for sale at about 1/2 the market price for this area. I had tons of people coming up to the house wanting to see inside and looking around the outside of the house. Many of them didn't believe me when I said that they had the wrong address.

The Internet is a good way of getting information out to a lot of people, but the accuracy of that information is often wanting.

MMLS (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 13 years ago | (#150931)

The Michigan MLS site is complete by law (except for Sale by Owner). All licensed real estate agents in Michigan are required to submit their homes for sale to the MLS database.


Real Estate on the net is almost "Bait & Switch" (1)

marko_ramius (24720) | more than 13 years ago | (#150939)

My wife and I just purchased a new house ... we chose a realtor to deal with in the local area (one I had dealt with before) and started looking. I mentioned that we were also searching on the net for houses that matched our parameters.

The realtor informed me that, if a house is listed on the internet, it's either already sold ... or there is something wrong with it that has caused it not to be sold (and probably wouldn't sell anytime soon).

Case in point: Once we found a house, made and offer, and had it accepted (with an "A" contingency) we put our condo on the market.

Our condo sold within a week ... but it wasn't listed on the web sites (,, etc) for 2 weeks. Needless to say, by the time the condo was on the internet, we had a contract and were out of attorneys approval.


Re:Local houses for Local people (1)

JasonCarlSmith (25698) | more than 13 years ago | (#150940)

Um. No.

If a wealthy someone wants to buy a house in some pastoral place they don't need the Internet to do it. They call up the local broker and throw an obscene amount of money at them, just like they have always done.

As for supporting local real estate agents or newspapers, since when did these groups move to the top of the moral support food chain?

Internet sites have major benefits over newspapers (better search, more info, maps) and have some benefits relative to a realtor (self-directed). In the near to medium term, the Internet will likely support the real estate agent and not supplant him or her. In the long-term, we'll see.


Use a professional (1)

lhand (30548) | more than 13 years ago | (#150945)

A real estate agent in a local area is the one who will know the neighborhoods, crime areas, shopping and schools, churchs, and so on. She'll know the dirty little secrets that it's not politically correct to mention in an ad.
I just bought a house and started with the Internet sites you've also found and it gave me an idea of what I could find. Mind you, just an idea. When I talked to a realtor, he took me to a few houses, briefed me about the location, and showed me the house I finally bought. The house had only been listed for three days and was not on any of the Internet sites yet. I might not have ever found it if he hadn't shown it to me.
Don't forget that these guys do this day in and day out. There are good ones and I'm sure some bad ones as well. You wouldn't suggest that people should write they're own programs by pointing and clicking--they should hire a professional. You should do the same.

In Canada (1)

srw (38421) | more than 13 years ago | (#150952)

If you're thinking of moving to Canada (or within) [] is a pretty comprehensive listing. As far as I can tell, this site lists all MLS (not exclusive) listings in Canada. I'm not sure how the realestate market works in USA or elsewhere. Here, almost all listings are put in the MLS system, so a site like this works pretty well.

Real estate online (2)

deacon (40533) | more than 13 years ago | (#150955)

I sold my house 4 years ago without a realtor, by creating a website for it, and listing it with several online listing services whose names I of course do not remember.

I found that the realtors are incredibliy hostile and will do their best to steer people away from a "for sale by owner" house. The realtors realize that their 7% commision is in great danger if buyers and sellers can find each other. I would not be surprised if Realtors were actively trying to shut down home listing sites.

only rentals (2)

boarder (41071) | more than 13 years ago | (#150956)

The only kind of real estate searching I've done on the net involved rental properties (apartments). I have done some searching for townhouses for sale, but those were usually found in apartment search engines. In southern California, Southbay Rentals is the most popular place (lists apts and roommates needed). I found a bunch of other sites, though, but they were extremely UNuseful. Almost all the sites that had stuff for sale or for rent required you to call and talk to the real estate agent in person/on the phone.

So I guess I have searched a lot and haven't found anything useful in terms of rental and real estate stuff.

From the post (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#150958)

The Washington Post's .com [] column today is about realty sites.

btw. I hate it when people say "real-ator".And "nuke-ular". Makes me twitchy. (2)

glitch_ (48803) | more than 13 years ago | (#150962) []
Wisconsin only, pretty new site. Has FSBO and MLS Listings and allows people to place thier home up for sale. But, all sales are done off-line. Yes I am bias, I worked on it.

Net site where you can search by acreage? (1)

dirtydog (51697) | more than 13 years ago | (#150964)

I've been trying to look for places on the web where you can search for homes by acreage. I can't seem to find any. Does anyone know of sites that have this option?

I do a ton of online research.. (1)

LinuxHam (52232) | more than 13 years ago | (#150965)

I know I'm leaving driblets of my personal life all over the net, but I sign up for weekly emails detailing new listings that fit my needs, and monthly bank loan information. I also frequently check the sale prices of homes in my neighborhood. The last time I was looking (late '98), I ended up buying from a family-referred real estate agent anyway. I always seem to find myself going back to ReMAX or Prudential's websites. They seem to do a good job with their website. Sometimes

What kills me is the fact that this is a niche industry that **BEGS** for ebusiness transformation through XML. I know that an MLS in Michigan is 1 of less than 5 in the nation that use what appears to be the premiere XML-based MLS, I believe it's called OpenMLS. I recall seeing a website for a california realtor that puts their database up on WAP, so you can enter an MLS# in your WAP phone, and see all the details on the place, or schedule an appointment.

Only slightly cooler than the 1mw AM radio stations they put in some houses.

Steve Jackson

Re:Some things just don't work on the 'net (2)

Coward, Anonymous (55185) | more than 13 years ago | (#150966)

What advantage does a realtor have in spending time (and thus money) to put ads up on the internet? How much more money are they really going to make by selling to someone out of state/country?

I've been looking at homes lately and over half the ones I've looked at have been homes I've found on the internet. It's not about selling to people out of state, it's about getting people in-state to look at your homes.

Personally, I would be very concerned about buying a home over the internet

I don't think anyone is buying a home over the internet (yeah, charge that home to my Visa), even ebay says that the bids on their real estate auctions aren't binding.

Real estate websites like and are a lot more convenient than the local papers when it comes to finding homes that match your criteria and that's why they're used and that's why I hope they continue to exist in the future. (1)

LS (57954) | more than 13 years ago | (#150967)

Has a lot of good real estate statistics, but it's limited unless you pay. They're geared towards real estate professionals.

Real Estate On-Line (1)

oldzoot (60984) | more than 13 years ago | (#150970)

One of the real benefits of on-line real estate shopping is the ability to get a sense of what kind of homes are available in an area of the country that you may be considering for career reasons. For example, I am currently evaluating San Diego, Western Pensylvania and New Hampshire. The quality, size and price of homes available in these areas is quite different. San Diego is about comparable to here in the San Francisco Bay area, more value for the money but generally within about 20% comparable. The East coast options however are very different and make such a move much more apealing than it originally seemed. For the price of a stucco tract home of about 3K sq ft here on the west coast, in thes particular areas you can have three to five acres with up to 5K sq ft.

Being able to "shop" on the net was much more effective than cold-calling realitors who immediately try to "lock you in" to being exclusively represented by them. Some realtors have embraced the net and put up very effective web sites requiring some level of registration but then letting you browse Multiple Listing Service database. The most effective use ( for the realtor ) of this had a middleware layer that prevented me from getting the actual address of the listings except through the realtor ( unless you saw the very tiny MLS ID number for the listing and used a different service to get the raw data ) That realtor then offered a database agent service which continuously sends new listings which meet my search criteria via Email. I get about 10 - 15 listings a week from the agent with no personal overhead by the realtor themselves.

I think that real estate is definitely one area that the internet has enhanced the power of a buyer to deal with what used to be a proprietary market.

As someone who just purchased a townhouse... (1)

sharv (71041) | more than 13 years ago | (#150973)

... I can say that using the web for searching and locating a potential home is no subsititute for dealing with a hard-working real estate agent. I'm working on a theory that states most good real estate is still sold by realtor and not by the web. Like jobs, if it's not filled easily by normal channels, there must be a reason.

One of the key pieces of data missing from most web-based real estate searches is a precise street address. Without the address, you're stuck relying on the hype entered into the system by the listing agent. You can't drive by and see if you like the neighborhood, or if the house in question is a wreck despite the supposed features, etc.

Keep in mind, too, that those listings are put in by the seller's agent. If you don't have a real estate agent of your own, you're at the whim of the seller's agent, who will collect both sides of the commission when the property sells. For this reason, I'm more comfortable with someone who's working for me and not for the seller.

Plus, you'll probably need a realtor to set up appointments to show the property: most selling realtors and/or homeowners don't want the general public tromping through their for-sale home. This weeds out both the uncommitted browsers and the merely curious.

You're probably going to want a realtor to handle the actual transaction for you when it comes time to buy. Have you ever read a real estate purchase contract? Sure, a lot of people blow it off as a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo and boilerplate, but we're talking about tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in play. Don't you want a trained professional on your side?

Remember, too, that when you're buying, you don't pay your realtor a dime. That's the seller's problem. So why not use their services?

My last tip on choosing a realtor: take advantage of referrals from family, friends, or colleagues. Real estate agents are just like travel agents: they've all got the same products, what distinguishes them is how hard they'll work for you.


p.s.: IANAR (I Am Not A Realtor), I'm just impressed with the job my realtor did for me, compared with the poor results and incomplete data I got using some of the websites listed in the story.

Re:So, what's new? (1)

syates21 (78378) | more than 13 years ago | (#150974)

Two weeks may be the general policy, but there must be exceptions.

I know there is definitely some delay, but the house that I bought was listed on about four days after it was listed in the MLS service. The only reason I know when it was listed in the MLS service is that our realtor gave use the MLS printout that says "for realtors only", which had a whole lot of useful info on it.

I think they will have to be real-time with the MLSs to really start to be useful (at least in hot housing markets).

looking in NYC (3)

kootch (81702) | more than 13 years ago | (#150978)

I guess I can comment on this since I'm looking to either rent or purchase an apartment in NYC. And lemme tell you something, it ain't fun.

There are three things you need to deal with in searching for a place online:
1. dis-information
2. scams
3. horrible sites with horrible query functions

You'll find places on the 'net that sound too good to be true... mainly because they are. After calling the # that you find in the Village Voice online, you realize that this is one of those services that although they don't charge a broker fee, requires you to pay $200 upfront for nothing.

So you turn down that... instead finding a site that has some great pictures with great descriptions... of course it was taken 3 weeks ago because the market moves faster than they have the time to put the information on the web.

And then there are just the really crappy sites. I've almost submitted proposals for work offering to make their sites better looking and more functional if they'll just drop the 15% broker fee (that's quite hefty since it's 15% of the total yearly rental which for a small 1 bedroom rental will equal about $3000+).

Searching for real estate online is just like searching for anything else. You have two choices: go to the main players in the space or be prepared to follow a lot of shitty links to a lot of shitty phone service. Once in a while you'll get a gem, but often you'll get crap.

If you're in NYC, try using or Nice pictures, descriptions, and brokers, but their prices are higher... or, one of those gems that I found is a woman named Sophia that works at (tell her I sent you)

Just like everything else, dilligence is necessary... and sometimes you just need to get lucky.

Re:Why get rid of Realtors? (1)

wfrp01 (82831) | more than 13 years ago | (#150980)

I couldn't agree more. Real estate transactions, especially home purchases, are a personal affair. Putting the sterile medium of the Internet in the middle of it does nothing to facilitate the process, except perhaps to help winnow the initial choices. And that's only if you're willing to go after homes that have been on the market for a couple of weeks. Believe me, in this market, good homes rarely sit on the market for two weeks. A good realtor might even find you a house /before it ever hits the market/. They know people. People considering selling a house call them. That's how their homes get on the MLS in the first place. Even for an experienced homebuyer, the experience can be harrowing. If you've never tread these waters before - /use a realtor/. When you find out the furnace emits deadly levels of CO, what do you do? Do you know how to read a purchase and sale agreement? When you start to panic, where do you turn to get grounded? Is the sale price reasonable? Etc.

Know the difference between a buyers agent, a seller's agent, and a dual dislosed agent. Regulations about these things may vary according to region.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) (1)

mcdade (89483) | more than 13 years ago | (#150987)

In Canada there is the MLS, which lists all the housings in a database by the Realitors.. I'm not an agent but as I recall, the agent must list a housing they get in the MLS, they have it online at MLS []

Re:Beware... (1)

e4 (102617) | more than 13 years ago | (#150993)

Actually, that's not true. Our house showed up on just a few days after we listed it. Perhaps some agents or agencies are slow in getting the information to, but not everything on is two weeks old...

One of the best sites... (1)

UnixMan (102769) | more than 13 years ago | (#150994)

On of the best sites I have seen is HomeAdvisor [] . Pretty well organized and with good up-to-date information. Pitty it is from M$...

doing one right now (1)

ruckc (111190) | more than 13 years ago | (#150997)

I am doing a site for listings locally, with the main goal of making it easy for the realtors to update the site to maintian current listings. Since starting this project i have found that most realtors in my area use Voyager product for their own software, which i plan to use simple ftp scripts to upload the exported data to my server. Simplicity at its best, or so I hope.

Use the Internet for preliminary screening. (2)

meckardt (113120) | more than 13 years ago | (#150999)

My wife and I just closed on a new house last month which I initially identified online last year. Some of the Real Estate search engines are pretty good at giving you an idea of where to start looking. Still had to go through an agent before buying the house, but at least we saved a lot of leg work.

I bought a home using (2)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 13 years ago | (#151002)

Last November I bought a home using [] . My first home. I live in LA County, CA (near Long Beach). I tried a traditional real estate agent a few times prior and was always discouraged. After trudging through long inital meetings and fruitless drive-arounds, I gave up. Even at these times I used on-line MLS (multiple listing services) that gave me pretty-good search features and would email the houses I thought I'd like to the AOL accounts of my agents. What a waste of time.

Then I found eRealty through a mention at Consumer Advocate Clark Howard's web site [] . The attractive thing up front was the 1% rebate at close (I did receive a check for $2,100 -- 1% of the $210,000 sale price -- within days of close). But I also liked the service itself.

eRealty has traditional realtors (working, at the time anyway, on salary, not commission -- a wonderful advantage for me, the buyer) who are Internet-aware (mine was, anyway; Cindy Morgan, BTW) as well as experienced realtors.

They not only provided cool search and alert tools via their web site, but the the person touch provided by my agent and, when things got rocky with the seller's agent (idiot), the regional managers kept the deal alive and made a potential disaster rather pleasant. These guys fought for me. (They even fought for the seller, who was in the process of be forclosed upon for non-payment of mortgage; they arranged a deal with her lender to keep her out of foreclosure until my financing was approved; then, they worked with my lender,, to secure my financing within 2 weeks of application).

I guess this is what I appreciated: eRealty provides traditional service with modern Internet tools. - Highly Recommended []

Re:Only three things matter in Real Estate (2)

cheese_boy (118027) | more than 13 years ago | (#151003)

You want to be in a good neighbourhood, close to schools, shopping, and recreational facilities.

And more importantly near the telco CO for DSL, and/or in a neighborhood with cablemodem. :)

My suggestions: [] []

Search, not buy (2)

demaria (122790) | more than 13 years ago | (#151006)

I've seen a few posts here already.

I believe this ask slashdot is not asking about buying a home on the Internet, but searching for one.

I've looked for price estimates and styles at These things are very useful in narrowing down lists of possibilities. It's also good for roughly judging particular areas. For example, I know I can't buy 10 acres of land in downtown syracuse (duh :) or liverpool, but can in Clay, NY. I also can tell that Manlius houses seem to cost over $120k, but Cicero can be bought for $70k

Re:Only three things matter in Real Estate (1)

nojomofo (123944) | more than 13 years ago | (#151009)

Well, yes but you can certainly do a good bit of research and shopping on-line first. If you're looking for a 4 bedroom house in a cetain community with a 3-car garage, you can find likely candidates, go drive by and look at the house, and then decide if it's worth going further. Better than the newspaper, where you only have a 3-line blurb.

Re:MLS in MN and IA (1)

kidzi (133371) | more than 13 years ago | (#151012)

I work on my mother's website, she's a realtor in Texas. Their MLS data is HORRIBLE! I think they said back in October that websites can actually display Texas MLS data, but our resource is a DBase one table file with 400+ fields from her MLS Windows application she uses. If you look at all of the independent sites in texas that are showing the data, you will see similarities, everything is caps, etc. All of the features and stuff are crammed in a big long text field with no way to delimit cleanly. I am currently working on moving it to a nice database to do the searching like (but with working ft, this is totally a side project). I have no idea if working with MLS data is as much of a pain in other states or not. Once we get it out of the one table format (using a similar sql table with 100 or so of the 400 tables for interim), it will be much easier to work with. I've heard that MLS data is different state to state. Someone mentioned XML, that would be fabulous! However, they are not quite there yet. for apartments (1)

Elequin (137149) | more than 13 years ago | (#151014) [] is great for finding apartments - they include floorplans for a lot of them, and list most of the features. The downside is, since they are supported by the apartment complexes, they only really detail about 1/10th of the complexes in the cities they have listings for.

Re:Local houses for Local people (1)

DigitalGodBoy (142596) | more than 13 years ago | (#151021)

It's Lover's Arrival, again with a Shakespearian styled comment that is whacked.

I don't think you could classify the Internet housing market as "immoral". We recently sold our house online, and guess who bought it? Someone from 3 counties over. They looked online, but only for houses that where near them. And, I bet, if you look at the logs on the webserver; you wouldn't find all that many out-of-state (or even out-of-country) people looking at my listing. People have a tendency to start looking in their local area if they need a smaller/bigger home.

Even without Intenet listings, if you have to move to a location for a reason (job, etc); you'll find a house in that area through the "normal" channels.

Dunno about buying, but okay for rentals (2)

Prof_Dagoski (142697) | more than 13 years ago | (#151022)

Before the dotcom bubble burst, I was looking to cash in with one of those high paying jobs. While evaluating offers, I used a bunch of apartment finders to look for a place to live in the areas with those jobs. I know I got no where near the whole rental picture for any given region using these services, but I got a basic idea what was out there and what the market was charging. One thing I learned was that there no way I could afford to live in Si Valley. Yeesh! In the other areas,I was able to zero in on about a dozen places that I could live in very quickly. This was very helpful since if I had taken any of the offers, I would have had to been out there yesterday, leaving very little time to find a place to live. Still, I dunno if I would use an online realtor to shop for house. It's a much bigger commitment in terms of cash and time. With the wrong apartment, you can put up with shit for a year a lot easier than you can break away owning the wrong house. And, since a large part of the reason for buying a particular house is the neighborhood, it's make much more sense to rent for a year and get to know the place before jumping in. Oh, and one other thing with the online apartment finders, their selections tend to be skewed towards luxury units. No suprise.

What I did... (2)

richardbowers (143034) | more than 13 years ago | (#151023)

I live in the DC area, and around here, none of the sites are a hundred percent useful. This is mainly because most good houses sell in a matter of hours, just in time for the picture to be getting on the net. In my case, though, the net did provide a great deal of help. I looked through a ton of houses on line, and found four that met my criteria. Then, my wife called the agents and asked what they had that was similar to those homes (which had, of course, long since sold). We picked the second realtor we talked to, and found a house with him the first afternoon we went out. Disclaimer - I work for a company that has done real estate internet development, so take it for what its worth.

Just bought a house and... (2)

ellem (147712) | more than 13 years ago | (#151025)

my wife did a lot of leg work on the web.

She would give the MLS numbers to the realtor who would get us into the houses.

I would say overall "the net" helped but in other ways it hindered us.

Choices become boggling and you are very easilt side tracked (Honey look at this; 87 acres, 2500 room, 2 billion dollars.)


Online RE in NYC (1)

bigfatlamer (149907) | more than 13 years ago | (#151026)

Finding real estate online in NYC can be both a blessing and a curse. Most of the major agencies (and some of the minor ones as well) have decent [] to excellent [] websites. They tend to have listings that mirror their actual listings (or at least what they put in the NY Times or have posted at their offices).
The bad side is that there's no true MLS in New York City so if you're interested in online RE searches in NYC, you need to hit all of the individual agents sites. What a pain in the ass. Some agents in Brooklyn and Queens kind of pretend to have an MLS and work together but for the most part it's an ugly and painstaking process.

Can't believe this hasn't been mentioned... (3)

dmccarty (152630) | more than 13 years ago | (#151030)

...but I've found [] to be an excellent resource when it comes to finding information about pricing for homes. I can look up the prices for a house or even all the houses on a street. Their coverage is pretty good for where I live (Chicago SW suburbs), and I think they cover a lot of areas in the US, except for Texas because it's a non-disclosure state. Anyway, my wife and I have used it a lot out of curiosity, and since we expect to be buying a house within the next few years I'm sure we'll use it for real.

homestore + why ask /. when you can ask yahoo? (1)

grue23 (158136) | more than 13 years ago | (#151031) is another place you can look for buy/rent listings. They've bought up several companies, including, which was itself a conglomeration. I only happen to know about this because I did some brief work for

I'm not quite sure why something easily found on yahoo [] is an 'ask slashdot'.

Re:homestore + why ask /. when you can ask yahoo? (1)

grue23 (158136) | more than 13 years ago | (#151032)

well now i feel silly, looks like homestore redirects to relator. damn all these mergers. ;)

Re:I bought a home using (1)

Slomojokoko (159283) | more than 13 years ago | (#151033)

Should be mentioned that appears to only target the following areas: Atlanta Austin Baltimore Boston Chicago Dallas Fort Worth Houston Northern Virginia Southern California Washington, D.C.

No, the Net will not revolutionize real estate (2)

yankeehack (163849) | more than 13 years ago | (#151036)

I bought a house in a real tough market last year and the Net didn't help a bit and I will tell you why. First, in most states in the US, there are two ways of selling real estate, you can either do it through a realtor who takes a comission off of your sale price or you can do a For Sale By Owner sale, which you list the property yourself.

The nasty part about realtors is this. Unless you are in a buyer's market, those properties that you see online are usually days or weeks old. Under the Multiple Listing Service guidelines (at least in my state) Realtors can sit on a property for three days before ever listing it on MLS. This is a big drawback for people who are trying to find houses on their own. And of course, you can't get to the updated MLS service at all unless you are using a realtor--this is how realtors hook you to using them (read:monopoly). So, people who are using the listing realtor or agency as a buyer's agent are usually getting first dibs on properties you may never see (it depends on the laws of your state if this is allowed).

Now, of course you can save yourself the realtor fees if you attempt to find a FSBO property (as a buyer, you can approach a FSBO property with a realtor, but you'll be charged half commission). I bought my house this way, actually by word of mouth. But let's face it, FSBO only really works well if it is a strong seller's market, thusly, making the costs of publicity--through the local paper, on a local FSBO website [] , etc. well worth the frustration factor.

All in all, I would definitely buy FSBO again (you do need a good lawyer) but I wouldn't depend on online listings unless the real estate market was moving fast.

Boston resource (1)

decesare (167184) | more than 13 years ago | (#151038) [] has a fairly comprehensive search engine, not only to find houses that had recently been listed for sale in the Boston Globe, but also to determine recent real estate sales in the same neighborhood, which may be useful to know when negotiating the price.

The question was asked if the net will replace real estate agents? IMO, probably about as much as it has replaced car salesmen (in other words, it won't). Even if, as a buyer, you don't want to deal with an agent, it's up to the seller of a property whether or not to go through an agent. At least in Boston, a prospective home buyer searching on the net will find that most of the bigger real estate firms (like Century 21, DeWolfe, etc.) have set up their own search engines.

Searching in L.A.? (1)

gotih (167327) | more than 13 years ago | (#151039)

check [] . The website is updated every two hours by the main listings database which is updated constantly by realators. If you find a house you like you must contact a realestate agent to purchase the house and to view it (1 or 0 pictures of the house on the site)

I wrote the code on that site which imports the database and the code that queries and displays the results.

MLS in MN and IA (2)

Feynman (170746) | more than 13 years ago | (#151042)

My mother is a REALTOR® in Iowa and I've worked with her quite a bit in getting a web site started.

At least in this part of the country, a seemingly common application for maintaining an area's multiple listing service (MLS) is using Technology Concept's Ultrex [] . (See, for instance, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls (IA) Board of Realtors [] and the Southeast Minnesota Association of REALTORS [] ). The web sites are essentially a "web-ified" version of the MLS database. So this is probably your best bet for finding real estate on the internet.

Sites like [] don't generally get updated nearly as often or as quickly.

Keep in mind, however, that in a lot of markets, agents can sell houses a lot faster than someone can enter them in the MLS database. My wife and I recently bought our first home -- doing so before it was even "officially" listed. It was never on the web, in the paper, or even had a sign. An agent will also have search capabilities in the MLS software that the web site probably won't provide. In most situations your best bet is probably to use an agent.

Nice but Too Late (1)

ibirman (176167) | more than 13 years ago | (#151050)

I used when searching for my house. The site works well and gives you a really good idea of what prices to expect in what neighborhoods.

However, the way the market is in the Washington, DC area, by the time the house makes it up to, it is usually already long gone.

I really like the ipix pictures of home interiors with the 360 degree views.

Buying a house (1)

pemerson (179241) | more than 13 years ago | (#151051)

My wife and I are closing on our first house at the end of the month. Our experience (IANARealEstateAgent):

The market in CT is a sellers market. We made offers that were above the asking price that were rejected because someone came in $5k, $10k, $15k higher than our asking price, all cash, seller allowed to stay in the house rent free for a certain amount of time after the closing, etc. Rediculous! Now, I'm not claiming that those buyers are necessarily going to get their investment back in 3-5 years, but still. The speed of the market is such that the web information is outdated too quickly.

We got a Real Estate agent. Regardless of your likes or dislikes for them, get one. My wife and I got very frustrated trying to track down houses listed on the web that we thought were interesting. Sure, the web is nice to use to get an idea of the market, but everyone takes pictures of houses at favorable angles so that you don't notice that the house next door is 3 feet away and that there's huge ugly oil tank in the back yard. Getting a good Real Estate agent will save you a lot of headaches. The house that we wound up buying went on the market, our agent called me on a Wednesday, and we made the offer the same day. Given the market, it wouldn't have waited until the weekend to be sold. That seems to be the current trend (in CT, anyways, and I suspect in many other parts of the country).

I believe that this is one area where the web has not successfully replaced or complimented a human. The real estate agents have much more recent data and can get a feel for what sort of house you are looking for. I have yet to see a real estate web site that understands that you want a quiet neighborhood with not a lot of traffic and neighbors who are likely to invite you over for drinks and watch over your house when you're on vacation. As far as I've seen, no web site can get that personal.

Re:Local houses for Local people (1)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 13 years ago | (#151052)

You bring up an interesting point, not with culture, put with prices.

Looking for a house here in the Rural Western US, I have found a lot of house which have been on the market for up to six months but whose owners are unwilling to give an inch on the price. Perhaps, their ability to see what others are asking in other regions has given them a false sense of what their property is worth.

Of course, this should be equalized in time with buyers seeing that in another comparable neighborhood (even if it's across the country) houses are going for much less.

Why get rid of Realtors? (3)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 13 years ago | (#151053)

Are we going to be stuck with using real estate agents forever? Sure, you can buy a car from an owner, you can buy a house from an owner. But that doesn't mean it's always the best way to purchase the property.

The net has allowed people to sell and buy homes sans realtor, but much of the money being put into the Net in this market, as in all markets, is coming from the people who have the money in the brick-n-mortor side of the market.

I could go list my home on eBay with maps, photos, etc. and sell it that way, or I could list it in Yahoo! classifieds, but that won't rid the world of realtors. Nor should it.

I use the Net to find the property I like, and then get me in touch with the agent or seller. Buying land online is much differenty from buying a car or CD online. In these cases, you can go down to your local dealer/retailer and test out the merchandise, while with a home, you really must see it in person, and it won't come to you.

Liabilities? (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#151054)

Most real estate sales want to get you in the door, to do a face to face where you can get smoozed. They also have this thing about not giving information to their competition. And so it is going to be difficult to find something comprehensive.

sort of like Arpa Net when it was started. No university wanted to share their servers. (but they did government mandate. everyone had to be part of the network)

Here people focus more on the liabilities of putting stuff up on the net, vs the benefits.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip and MLS (1)

rmarquis (184077) | more than 13 years ago | (#151056)

We have just bought a home in Ohio, and two years ago bought one in Michigan. In both cases, has been a very useful tool to us; it's tied to various MLS systems used all over, and I believe data is shared between those systems as well. It's been a very useful tool to get an idea what homes are available in a given area, what their price range is, and even provides an MLS number to give to your realtor if you should spot something that your agent didn't tell you about. There may still be some regions of the country that don't have a computerized MLS system, and in that case, it won't help you much. You should still use an agent, however, as they can often find FSBOs (For-Sale-By-Owner) that won't show up in that system. It was also useful to get more readable information about a home using the very messy and barely readable MLS printout our agent sent us, by punching in the numbers and seeing the homes in living color. Of course, there's still no substitute for actually going an looking at homes, but this makes for a great way to start. Finally, it's important to note that is the official home of the National Association of Realtors (which is a real national organization), and as such is probably the most authoritative. Good luck!

Some things just don't work on the 'net (2) (184378) | more than 13 years ago | (#151058), perhaps?

What advantage does a realtor have in spending time (and thus money) to put ads up on the internet? How much more money are they really going to make by selling to someone out of state/country?

Personally, I would be very concerned about buying a home over the internet, thus I'm not too surprised to find out that there aren't many people advertising the fact they're selling.

Local newspapers and periodicals have worked for many many years, why would one try to move it to the internet, when it's obvious most advertising-run ventures are barely (if at all) profitable? Subsidizing a website that's losing money just so you can "be on the 'net" is bad business.

People need to think about things logically from a business point of view, not the computer guy/gal view of "everything should be free and on the 'net." Business goals are often different from individual computer user goals.

And I'm not saying my statements or right or logical, just saying to think about these things from someone else's point of view.

See what the area looks like and view demographics (1)

gscott (187733) | more than 13 years ago | (#151059) []
Cool site for looking over an area. Not always up to date, but interesting.

Don't forget Online Newspapers (1)

Copperhead (187748) | more than 13 years ago | (#151061)

A lot of online papers include their classifieds. I haven't been in the market for a house, but I did find my current apartment by checking out the classifieds [] in our local newspaper [] . Don't forget to check out that resource, especially if you live in the Chester County, Pennsylvania region.

Also, if you live in the Philadelphia region, The Philadelphia Inquirer [] has their own classifieds [] with real estate listings.

Re:Some things just don't work on the 'net (1)

gughunter (188183) | more than 13 years ago | (#151062)

What advantage does a realtor have in spending time (and thus money) to put ads up on the internet? How much more money are they really going to make by selling to someone out of state/country?

One of the main ideas behind getting properties on the Internet is "competitive advantage," in two senses. First, if agent A has stuff on the Internet and agent B doesn't, agent A's listings have a greater chance of being noticed by people who want to browse on the Internet before making a live human contact with an agent. And second, even if you can find flaws with that argument, try explaining those flaws to an irate sales associate who notices that the local ColdwellMax21 franchise has its own site but her brokerage doesn't. Agent retention is a terrible, terrible problem for a real estate brokerage--very little "employee loyalty". They're not usually employees to start with, and it's very difficult and expensive for one broker to offer a compelling slate of perks that make it more attractive than all the others.

SF Bay Area has (1)

theinfobox (188897) | more than 13 years ago | (#151065)

Pretty good and quick search engine for Bay Area homes is --Although I could get it to find any houses for under $100,000. Strange, huh?

Start with the Yellow Pages (2)

mblase (200735) | more than 13 years ago | (#151068)

Many (but by no means most) real estate agencies and agents use their own Web sites to advertise themselves. The bigger and more technological ones post pictures and information for their properties. However, they'd rather use their own site and structure instead of a central repository.

Keep in mind that you can't sell real estate like other stuff you'd find at or eBay. It's one-of-a-kind every time, usually changes hands from one individual to another, and can't be shipped across the country. Real estate is, and will always be, a local endeavor. Because of this, it's hard to justify the expense of a World-Wide Web site. A few do. But no one, to my knowledge, sells real estate exclusively online for just those reasons, and so you'll never have as much success hunting online as you will with a personal agent.

Your best bet, if you must do this electronically, is to hit the online Yellow Pages [] and do a search for "real estate agent" in the location of your choice. A handful will have Web sites, but practically speaking, you'll have to settle down with some phone numbers and do it the old-fashioned way.

Props to (2)

Gehenna_Gehenna (207096) | more than 13 years ago | (#151069)

I am closing on the 29th on a house I found on

There is no "definitive" real estate site, as far as I can tell. Your best bet is to visit as many as you can, devote some time to it, & figure out what's best for you.

Just like the reset of life, there is NEVER an easy, all around, all encompassing answer. No matter what microsoft would like us to think.

in Delaware you can (1)

CoreyG (208821) | more than 13 years ago | (#151071)

After repeatedly taking time off work to follow my realtor throughout Wilmington, Delaware ( I don't think we have any screendoor factories) to look at various houses (all of which did not suit me) I decided to check out the local realtor websites. Patterson Schwartz [] lets you search all of their listings. Prudential Fox and Roach [] also lets you search, and even provides virtual tours of most homes. That's how I found my home. I found it online in the area I wanted, looked at the virtual tour to make sure I was interested, and told my realtor that's the house I wanted to see. The MLS (multiple listing service) number was provided as well. My realtor didn't need to guess at houses I liked, I didn't have to worry about any nasty surprises (The 2 bedroom 2 bath house where the second bathroom consisted of a pipe emerging from a cinderblock wall in an unfinished basement springs to mind).

The only drawback is that the realtor sites only allow you to search their listings. There is no real centralized web-accessible search page. You'll have to jump from realtor to realtor and hope they all let you search until you find what you're looking for.

For those of you wishing to rent, the rental sites [] and [] (there are lots more) are searchable in most metropolitan/national areas, and many listings provide floor plans. They are also extremely searchable.

I still don't get why you'd want to rent in Philly. My mortgage payment is less than monthly rent in a 3 bedroom place in center city. Then you get to add on the $200+ a month for city parking. That's equivalent to a monthly payment on a commuter car. To each their own, I suppose.

prime river-front property in houston! (1)

HadronPie (212138) | more than 13 years ago | (#151072)

Got a great piece of real estate for you. It's in a "100-year flood plain" and it just flooded so you're safe for at least 100 years! Of course, it flooded in '94 and '98 as well, so who knows. Actually, take your pick of land in Houston - there's a bunch of houses going really cheaply right about now. And if you'll take one of those, then I've got a great used car to sell you, too!

All? (2)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#151074)

I'm frequently suprprised by how freely people here hold forth on what "we all" do or believe. Most recently, I questioned [] an article statement that "We all wish him well." regarding the fellow who fled to Canada to avoid misdemeanor charges resulting from his probably-shouldn't-be-considered-illegal threats against Scientology and almost immediately got knocked down from +2 to -1. (Aside: I've departed from the approved views on Linux, Microsoft, KDE, Napster, Apple and a host of other hot-button topics and never gotten tagged like that. I hadn't imagined Scientology was the one topic on which a range of opinion absolutely couldn't be tolerated.)

But can I least express spketicism about this one?
digThisXL asks: "We've all used the Internet to search for real estate at one time or another.

I mean, I'm not taking offense at it but I have to smile at the assurance with which that staement was made...

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Homestore (1)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#151075)

I heard that has something like 90% of all Internet real estate listings. The DoJ may even be investigating. I forgot the details though.

As far as buying online, you should always visit the house before purchase. Hire an engineer to check it out. Make sure it will be standing after you close the deal. Drive around the area. Check out the local schools to see if they meet your standards. Check on private schools. If moving to another state find out what the property taxes will be. In NYC it's not unusual for people to pay $200 PER MONTH for property taxes.

Have you tried... (3)

FastT (229526) | more than 13 years ago | (#151077)

...and i'll be honest with you, the real estate sellers on the web have NOTHING in the way of true online resources. Realty websites do nothing except serve as an advertisement for the realtors who will ultimately get your business anyway.
Did you try [] ? Unlike other online services, they give you direct access to the MLS listings with MLS number. Granted, this isn't everything, but it is more than I've seen from any other realty site. They also send daily email listing updates, and give 1% rebates on houses brokered through them, which is usually enough to cover closing costs. So far, I've been very pleased with their listings.

Re:Some things just don't work on the 'net (2)

bmongar (230600) | more than 13 years ago | (#151079)

I don't think it is about buying over the net, so much as pre-selection over the net. Instead of puring over a news paper you can set a price range, a city (maybe even neighborhood), style, size whatever and get a list, then check them out. Also very good if you are going to relocate to a new city and want to narrow your choices down to make use of your visits to the city.

Stuck with agents? (1)

xtermz (234073) | more than 13 years ago | (#151084)

I f'ing hope not. Sorry to be so blunt, but they have totally put a bad taste in my mouth. We have gone through 2 agents to sell our still unsold house. One of them we literally didnt hear from for months, the other hardly does her job, and recently asked my sick with kidney stones gf to wait on the balcony in 90+ heat while she shows the house.....dolts

"sex on tv is bad, you might fall off..."

Re:Why get rid of Realtors? (1)

thelexx (237096) | more than 13 years ago | (#151085)

I would argue that it is nearly always in the best interest of a buyer to go directly to the seller to make a deal, rather than through a percentage taking middle-man. You may be an easier mark for scammers than someone who does nothing but make deals, but a little homework can go a long way. If you dont want to do the homework fine, use an agent. Just please don't vote for structuring the system so that one is required. As a seller on the other hand, it is a different story, for reasons such as advertising coverage etc.

There, I replied :)


I've used the Net to buy a house (1)

WillSeattle (239206) | more than 13 years ago | (#151086)

But I found that, while it was very useful in cutting down on wasted trips, it didn't find me any of my top 5 house choices. Even with virtual tours and online pictures and search databases that listed properties in the area I wanted.

Look, the thing is we all have different things that matter to us in a house. For me, location was important, and ambience, and closeness to a good school, and what kind of neighbors were there.

So, the Net did help me find lots of properties and figure out if I should check them out, and cut my search time in half, but the houses I really wanted I found by driving and walking around the neighborhood area I was interested in.

Because a lot of listings aren't in those large databases. The best was a local firm that listed all their properties with pics and had database searches based on price range and neighborhood, and also included ALL the MLS listings that were online as well, and any pics they had.

But one of the houses I almost bought was because a friend told me one of her neighbors was selling (it's a very nice set of townhouses in a wonderful location). And another was one I found by walking nearby my son's school. And the one I bought I just walked into cause it had an open house sign up and I was walking by.

Maybe, in the future, when we all have WAP cell phone/PDA/wrist watches I can just be driving by and houses in a 2 block radius will just advertise themselves to me, but for now it's a useful tool, but it's not the total solution.

The thing to watch out for... (3)

RareHeintz (244414) | more than 13 years ago | (#151090)

The problem with many such services - and it is shared by similarly-structured job search services - is that the useless middlemen the system is trying to bypass are constantly trying to hijack it. So many of the ads are actually spam - they're false listings, or (now and then) real listings provided by a realtor through whom you must go to view the property. Basically, they don't care how much they have to lie in order to keep you from performing an unhindered private transaction with a property owner.

On the upside, there are a fair number of genuine listings - you just have to be willing to wade through the spam, and not give into the temptation to respond to the realtors who are trying to deceive you into paying their fees.

- B

Re:So, what's new? (1)

$pacemold (248347) | more than 13 years ago | (#151091)

> I know there is definitely some delay

Funny thing, the slowiness of Yahoo listings worked to my advantage.

Both houses, bought in 1996 and 1998, were already sold when I found them. Well, to be precise, they were under contract. No agent shows their clients houses that are already under contract: it's a waste of time for them.

Both times, my wife and I were able to yank the house by offering better terms (but less money).

I don't think I will be able to pull this trick the third time...

So, what's new? (2)

$pacemold (248347) | more than 13 years ago | (#151092)

I found my first house in 1996 on Yahoo Real Estate listings. I fouund my second house in 1998 on Yahoo Real Estate listings. Now, Slashdot realized that there is something called real estate... Yahoo!?

For Sale by Owner (1)

Lede Singer (253091) | more than 13 years ago | (#151095)

There are some "For Sale By Owner" sites that I can't think of right off hand (I'm at work), but those worked really well for me. There are a few problems with those, though such as:

A) unless you have really good credit, or are capable of a hefty down payment, you're fairly limited.

B) A lot of the homes don't have pictures, which is really annoying, and

C) You're removed from the possibility of getting a HUD or FHA home.

I'm currently looking for a house as well. I don't know what you're markets like, but I'm being told by several people to be patient and try for a HUD home so that I can get a really good deal. There are so many homes being traded right now that it seems ideal for purchasing one. Not to mention the low interest rate, and the VERY expensive rent on apartments.

All in all, I think that the Online part of home buying will become more prominent, but it will take some modifications in the home buying process to help steamline the "parouse to Purchase" process. All of the realtors use the computer to look up homes, we just need to find a way to grab their benefits without their cost.

Another Canadian Listing Service (1)

belgar (254293) | more than 13 years ago | (#151096)

....try -- it's new, so it doesn't have a ton of listings, but it seems to have potential...

Get Local (and Personal) (1)

Greenisus (262784) | more than 13 years ago | (#151097)

Your best bet would be to search the classified ads in the local paper. Most areas have a website for their newspaper, including the classified ads.

Another good thing to do is to get on AIM (or whatever you chat with) and search for people from that area. Then you can find out what parts of town are nice to live in (i.e. low violence, stuff to do, proximity to DSL switches, etc).

The only way you could get a complete view of a city through an agent would be if that agent had a complete monopoly.

Get Local (and Personal) (1)

Greenisus (262784) | more than 13 years ago | (#151098)

Your best bet would be to search the classified ads in the local paper. Most areas have a website for their newspaper, including the classified ads.

Another good thing to do is to get on AIM (or whatever you chat with) and search for people from that area. Then you can find out what parts of town are nice to live in (i.e. low violence, stuff to do, proximity to the good ISPs, etc).

The only way you could get a complete view of a city through an agent would be if that agent had a complete monopoly.

Local MLS listings very good; national not so good (1)

os2jihad (263856) | more than 13 years ago | (#151099)

For a really good example of an up-to-date, well maintained, and fast local online MLS service, visit . The fact that this server is running Linux is a bonus. . . And no, I am not a realtor, nor am I affiliated in any way with

This site is a good example of how to design, build, and implement a useful MLS server. National servers (i.e. could learn a few things from some of the good local MLS servers. Hell, if was even up half as much as some of the local MLS servers, it would be an improvement.

along those lines (3)

onepoint (301486) | more than 13 years ago | (#151102)

The "net" has helped me alot with research. I use a very simple but profitable system for buying 2 and 3 families. My rules ( i hope it helps you guys ) are as follows.

1) find the work population center that people must travel to. I live in northern NJ so I use New York City.

2) using bus and rail scheduals I locate towns that have no more than 43 minutes of travel time to the main hubs on NYC ( Hoboken, Port Athority building and Grand Central station ). My list had over 321 zip codes

3) sort the list by average prices of 2 and 3 family homes take the bottom half of the list. (cheap homes)

3) take all the towns and sort by crime trend of 8 years. The sort should be from best to worst.

4) take the top 60. and now rank by average tax of homes. ( Most MLS have databases of these numbers.) take the 40 lowest tax areas.

5) rank the list by eduacation. the only data I have for this is the SAT scores that are published every year for each town. the data is for free.

6) take the top 10.

That's it, I then start seaching for handy man specials. and check out the towns. If I like the area, & the commute is true to bus schedual I start to hunt.

Re:Search, not buy (2)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#151103)

I agree, as I tried for several months searching thru for a house or condo. Lots of cookie cutter houses on there, and not much use for finding any 'gems.' Even my local newspaper doesn't do a very good job of putting their classified listings online (I live in Columbus, OH - [] is the local newspaper).

To find the real 'gems' in housing you really need to drive around the neighborhoods and scope them out for yourself, or go through a realtor to scope them for you if you're short on time. The real benefits to real estate that can be found online are the demographics and county listings on government websites. Where I live, our Franklin County Auditor [] has a website that you can use to look up the last selling price of a house, year sold, etc. that you would normally have to go to a county courthouse to find out. That has been pretty useful to me, but the actual locating, buying, and selling needs to be either done by yourself, or thru a realtor still.

Using (1)

drkich (305460) | more than 13 years ago | (#151106)

My wife and I just had our offer accepted on a home. We did go through a real estate agent (Century 21). The agent sent us information that he found, via email and phone calls. However we felt that it was in our best interest to search as well, and not to rely on the agent alone. We used and we came up with many houses that we wanted to see, sent the agent the MLS# and he scheduled the rest. In fact, the house we are buying now we found on and when I was about to send the email to the agent asking him to schedule us to look at the place, he sent us information on that very house. In my opinion it is a very good tool for finding up to date listings. Don Kichline

Real estate services in Canada (2)

ehud42 (314607) | more than 13 years ago | (#151111)

The Canadian Multiple Listing Service [] is fairly comprehensive - I've used it to price check houses southern Manitoba.

Lately (in the past 6 months) I've notice an 'explosion' of ComFree [] houses being advertised via lawn signs. ComFree seems to offer a pretty slick service, including VR tours. The housing market in Winnipeg has taken off in the last year or so, and as a result the need for a high pressure real estate agent has dropped. It will be interesting to see how well ComFree does when the housing market cools off.

Only three things matter in Real Estate (3)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 13 years ago | (#151113)

Location! Location! Location!

You want to be in a good neighbourhood, close to schools, shopping, and recreational facilities.

I don't know how you are going to determine if a given property has any of these things purly by surfing. Sooner or later, prospective purchasers are going to have to go to the area and find out for themselves what it is like.

The pictures and short description of the house will not give you enough information about whether you want to buy it or not.

Besides, when you are spending that much coin, you want to see it for yourself.

People won't buy cars on-line, why would they buy houses that way. Part of the purchasing experience
is going to the place and checking it out - live and in person.

Real Estate (1)

G0nz0 (320899) | more than 13 years ago | (#151114)

I'm in Florida, and acutally close on a house next month. I discovered that the net was a great tool for finding what neighborhood's we could afford. Other than that, most listings are out of date with what is still available. I found going to a realtor much more helpful. Their tools are better and they'll be able to give us specific addresses and more information.

MiddleMen (1)

rgbscan (321794) | more than 13 years ago | (#151115)

I think part of the problem of buying/listing houses online and something else, like say a computer or a car, is that buying a house requires the use of quite a few middlemen. The bank, the realty agent, appraisers/inspectors, and so on. Getting a comprehensive listing bringing together all these parties would be something of a chore, and they'res not really any incentive for any of these parties independently to bring such a site together.

Ideally, I'd like to see something like adapted for home buying - but thats just me...

My 2 cents!

So far, no substute (1)

Jupiter9 (366355) | more than 13 years ago | (#151116)

I just recently bought a place in the Cleveland area. After spending about 3 months of my time searching realtor site/ and a few others, I found that nothing beats a local realtor that has experience in that area. My suggestion is to find a realtor that you know or that a friend can refer you too and you can trust.

Working with a realtor, you'll find that there are so many more listings then what is presented on the web. Also, we all know the (location, location, location) importance, but another very important aspect of buying a home is TIMING. The best locations can sell quick, and working with a realtor can give you access to the newest listings before anyone decides to put them out on the web. Or, if you wait around too long it gives another party a chance to put a bid in, and you end up in a bidding war.

One last point if you're a first time home buyer, working with a realtor can help you with the negotiating process and working with the bank. But like I said before, make sure you work with someone you know or trust.

What? (1)

skizzy (413335) | more than 13 years ago | (#151118)

"another Slashdot reader who lives close to you may be asking this same question" I seriously dobt it...

What? (1)

skizzy (413335) | more than 13 years ago | (#151119)

"another Slashdot reader who lives close to you may be asking this same question" I seriously doubt it...

Re:Beware... (1)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 13 years ago | (#151122)

So, if you're moving to the Washignton DC suburbs, you're pretty much screwed. Listings last about an hour around here.

MLS searching online (1)

The Panther! (448321) | more than 13 years ago | (#151124)

The key is to find a web site that has an MLS for your area online, and provides addresses, _not_ necessarily maps. You can get a map anywhere if you have the address, but some MLS sites don't give you the address, just maps.

If you're looking for FSBO, I haven't seen much in that respect that is reliable. However, an MLS is typically where realtors go to find their info. Almost any large market has two or three MLS sites.

real estate online (1)

penguinfreedom (448635) | more than 13 years ago | (#151125)

My wife & I just bought our first house. Our agent had told us there was nothing new on the market that day, and that didn't sound right to me. So I went onto and put in the area and criteria for the house we wanted, and emailed our realtor the listing. One of the houses on that listing was the first house we bid on, and that's the one we got. I think these sites are good supplemental tools to buying/selling property.

Beware... (2)

lemonboy (456438) | more than 13 years ago | (#151129)

All MLS listings on Realtor.Com [] are two weeks old before being posted on the web.

a decent site (1)

trash eighty (457611) | more than 13 years ago | (#151130)

is this one []

don't use the internet for real estate... (3)

turbine216 (458014) | more than 13 years ago | (#151131)

i just spent the past three months helping my mother find her new home...two and a half months were spent using web realtors and such...and i'll be honest with you, the real estate sellers on the web have NOTHING in the way of true online resources. Realty websites do nothing except serve as an advertisement for the realtors who will ultimately get your business anyway.

Oh, and after two months on the 'net, we were able to locate and close on a house in less than three weeks with a local real estate agent. Guess some things just weren't meant for e-business.

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