New Web Tools Empower Homebuyers

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Unprecedented foreclosures. Facebook. Innovative mortgage regulations. Zillow. Green building certification. Twitter. In the midst of a continued recession and the chaos that has rocked the real estate industry in the United States for the past three years, technology has emerged as both a threat and a boon to realtors scrambling to adapt to the opportunities and potential pitfalls of Web 2.0.

Not only has the Internet altered the traditional relationship between realtor and homebuyer, but it has provided a significant opportunity to generate greater volumes of business as well. The seemingly endless online offerings can be overwhelming for non-tech savvy brokers, but homebuyers themselves, the savvy ones at least, now have more tools than ever to take matters into their own hands.

According to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 60% of homebuyers use the Internet to shop for a house, and the majority of lookers use the Internet to educate themselves about a particular neighborhood. They use tools like Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and a plethora of community-level information available online to assume the research component previously reserved for real estate brokers. The shift in responsibility has allowed agents to focus on other aspects of operating and growing their business.

Beth Copenhaver, a veteran realtor with Coldwell Banker in Tampa, Florida, says that technology “has allowed the consumer to become more intimate with the real estate process. Sometimes they prefer to do their own searches and let you know what homes they want to see… and that's fantastic!”

Bradley Kintz, a senior realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate in Alexandria, Va. echoes Copenhaver’s sentiments. “The Internet has allowed me to take on a greater amount of work; my clients and I have become more of a team, both performing research and trading information," he says, adding, "that teamwork has allowed us to expedite the decision making and processes that would have taken former real estate agents a frustratingly long time.”

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