Above all else, the easiest way to find a new home, whether you are searching by price, builder or neighborhood amenities, is to bookmark the home page of the website you’re reading now and buy your home online.
Anyone with a recent history of house hunting knows the drill: Get into the car, get out of the car, get into the house, look around the house, out of the house, into the car, and so it goes, for days, weeks and even months.
Until the advent of the Internet, house hunting meant scurrying from one “For Sale” sign to another, each home blurring into the next. Now, thanks to the World Wide Web, homebuyers can browse in comfort and privacy.
Although most home shoppers still won’t buy their castle sight unseen, cruising through cyberspace can save countless hours of tromping through homes and neighborhoods. With a few clicks of the mouse, floor plans, community information, even virtual tours, are at your fingertips, all without leaving the comforts of home or office. Plus, there’s no high-pressure sales pitch.
Real estate agents, community developers and builders have all learned that a web presence can go a long way toward luring serious prospects.
Of course, all the information that’s now available on the World Wide Web can be mind-boggling. It’s easy to surf for hours, and barely scratch the surface. Type “real estate” or “homes for sale” or even try narrowing it down to “Southwest Florida” or “Naples,” and the cursor proudly flashes a near-infinite number of sites, from individual real estate agents to companies, communities and builders. It even throws out other enticements, like “beachfront” or “waterfront,” and mentions specific place names like Port Royal or Park Shore.
Like a mall, many sites try to fill a one-stop shopping need, offering the names of real estate attorneys, architects and brokers, and tips on moving, home improvement, interior design and lawn maintenance. Others are really nothing more than a glowing Chamber of Commerce-type endorsement about local lifestyle—everything from dating and dining to shopping and community commentary that just happens to have a miniscule real estate section. Of course, some sites are thinly veiled advertising, listing only businesses that have paid for a spot.
While no single site can list every possible home for sale, some are truly better than others, providing not only detailed fact sheets on available homes, but also such relevant information as neighborhood demographics, school and crime statistics, even tax payments and projected mortgages.
Today, with just a click of the search button, a list of homes meeting personal parameters magically appears. Most offer exterior pictures, along with helpful prompts for finding out about property tax rates, neighborhood information, local businesses and cultural venues, plus a map pinpointing the exact location of the home.