The Advent of the Internet Home Search
I remember talking to my dad about what things were like when he was in grammar school. As a child, I was amazed that things were so different in the 40's or 50's.
That's the same way I feel about the changes in home searching: only the time frame is much shorter. The new and improved features of our new website really are astounding. Being able to search like an agent and have customized home searches saved and updated daily, with emailed updates is really amazing. It wasn't that easy just a short time ago.
My wife and I purchased our first home in Manchester Missouri in 2000. It was a 'fixer upper' in a good location off highway 141. I grew up about a half mile away and was very familiar with the area.
We scanned the Post Dispatch Classifieds and home books for listings and stumbled upon our little 'project'.
Not being aware of the services that a buyer's agent could provide to us, we simply called the number on the sign and spoke to the listing agent. In that case, the seller was not willing to allow him to serve as a dual agent, so he told us that we had to contact an agent. That's what put us in touch with our agent. I had spoken to her, and she sounded like a pro. I had an email address, but she had sent me a large envelope full of printed out listings from the MLS. Despite that, we had been searching on our own, much like buyer's start doing today.
Its amazing the difference in such a short time. The classified ad that directed us to our little home was basic. The asking price, the street address, the bedroom / bathroom count and the agents contact number. That's it.
Searching through homes at 4SaleStLouis.com and setting up custom searches that send updates blows my mind. While today's home buyer has many advantages due to the internet, there's one common theme. When we really got serious, we had to work with a REALTOR to get 'real life' experience with making the offer, what to ask for, how to negotiate, what inspectors did a good job and what steps needed to be done from contract to closing. Having an experienced professional that gave us realistic information helped us immensely. So much so, that when it was time to start buying investment properties 3 years later, we called a Realtor first, saving us lots of time, energy and money!