The dramatic change that the internet has brought is in giving control back to consumers. This is especially true in real estate. Not too long ago you had to contact a Listing Agent to request a "CMA" or home value report. Now you can get them at sites like mine www.Evaluate-My-Home.com or sites like www.Zillow.com (see my May 25th blog for the good and bad of that service.
Worse in the old days was that you could never find complete home information unless you called the Listing Agent. You'd see wonderful photos of homes in magazines or newspapers, but there would be no price, or no property address and other critical pieces of information. Now Realtor Association "MLS" (multiple listing service) sites usually give buyers 95% of the information they want. Some are still pretty bad like the San Francisco site at www.SFARMLS.com which is slow and clunky with a weird seeming "District" search tool. How is a Buyer to know that District 7D is "Cow Hollow"? So while it gives you the information, there are better ways to get to the same data. Many third party companies are creating over-lays to get more user-friendly access to the San Francisco MLS. I pride myself on providing Buyers with "best of class" internet search tools and am one of the few Realtors in San Francisco to offer two of the best sites:
1. www.SF-MLS-Search.com is a way to search the MLS via a Map. You can choose to search by District, or by zip code, or address, but the Map search is by far the most popular
2. www.CleanOffer.com is a "private" site that claims to have "complete" data. But Buyers like it because you can exclude "in escrow" or "active contingent" properties which are those where the Seller accepted an offer but the offer still has some "contingencies". In San Francisco about 90% of these properties end up selling, so it's annoying to find a property that you can't actually buy. CleanOffer allows you to only see "Active" properties. Plus it allows you to save your favorite properties, and save your searches, among other things. On CleanOffer you must register and select an Agent who has pre-subscribed for you. I've done that, so if you don't have an agent, feel free to enter "Rob Regan" as your agent.
All of the above services are free. Bookmark them and come back time and again. And if you see other great internet real estate tools that I don't offer, please tell me about them so I can decide whether they're worthy of me giving you free access.