Empowered buyers’ online tools

Today’s buyers in the Charlottesville market (and everywhere else) are far, far more empowered and knowledgeable about local real estate than they ever have been, thanks to the internet. Buyers are contacting Realtors after they have done a significant amount of research using tools with which many Realtors may not yet use. This market allows for buyers to do their due diligence much more than the previous marked permitted, and this is a very “good thing.”

Albemarle‘s GIS site
Online GIS (not Mac-friendly)

Various tax records (assessments are, for the most part, wholly irrelevant with regard to market value); the individual county sites have assessment information as well.
Google Maps and Google Earth, which have now been implemented on the best local search site, provided by the local Board of Realtors.
Neighborhoo for graphical display of population density, housing prices, crime, etc. The data is not 100% accurate, but it’s a start.
Cyberhomes – which is quite an excellent site, with the same disclaimer as that for Neighborhoo, except moreso, as the housing data is vastly incomplete. Zillow, as well.

Greatschools.net
Virginia’s Standards of Learning results

MyCaar.com and the rest of the property search sites.
My neighborhood series (which I fully intend to finish and would welcome reader submissions)

Trulia’s neighborhood guides – Charlottesville and Crozet, for starters.

Why put all of these together? Because many of my buyer clients are already using them. The time was that Realtors tried to control the flow of information. That time is past. The successful ones now harness and leverage the various tools available. However, raw data is not nearly as useful as professional interpretation of the data and information.

All of the above are good starting places. No amount of online information can compete with professional interpretation, guidance and advice nor can online data compare with actually walking down a neighborhood’s streets, smelling the air, waving to the neighbors and spending a little bit of time in the place you will live.

Charlottesville Buyers (and Sellers) – what other tools have you found useful for searching and researching homes and the real estate market in the Charlottesville/Central Virginia area? Realtors? What would you like to see available? What am I missing?

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3 Comments

  1. Glen May 12, 2007 at 21:35

    Nice post, especially since all the CAAR websites have been down since yesterday evening.

  2. Jim Duncan May 12, 2007 at 21:50

    Great. I have an email in to see what’s going on.

  3. Jim Duncan May 12, 2007 at 21:53

    And it’s back up. Our IT is great.