How to Use the Internet When Buying or Selling a Home

By Ken Urman, Realtor®


A critical question seldom asked by home buyers and sellers is how to use the Internet when buying or selling a home. It is an important question. The Internet has become a critical factor in shopping for most products and services. However, buying or selling a house is not the same as buying a new pair of jeans. The Internet can be an important tool for real estate sales, but the wise buyer or seller recognizes the need for a local experienced professional Realtor/Broker.

Some people are willing to trust the information provided on websites in choosing a home and finding an agent to close the deal. Others shop for a home by attending open houses to view properties. When they find a home they like, they make the mistake of choosing any realtor available at the moment or they decide to allow the listing agent to handle the entire transaction. I strongly advise against either of these approaches. Some Real Estate websites will recommend or provide agents. However, doing “good Internet” does not mean they employ or work with experienced professional agents who are committed to the best interest of their clients.

It makes sense to conduct some research on the Internet. This includes:

  1. Exploring and comparing home costs in the communities surrounding your new place of employment.
  2. Researching the communities in the area in which you plan to relocate. You can learn a good bit of helpful information about the school systems, community amenities, property tax rates, local activities, etc.
  3. Explore the types of architecture most common in a particular community.
  4. Research job opportunities in a city or area.
  5. Find a list of Real Estate Brokerages in an area.
  6. Use review sites to learn about and compare brokerages and agents. Visit brokerage and agent websites to learn about specialties, certifications, experience, etc., and read testimonials from previous clients,
  7. Use a site like to explore property listings in an area you like.

Finding the right home for your family will be easier with the help of an experienced professional local Realtor. I can provide a trained first-hand look at properties you discover online. Many factors affect home pricing and average time to sale. These factors are not explained on websites.  Nor will a website provide information about recent events or the history of a property’s ownership.

The valuable knowledge and insight I can provide to you includes:

  • Because I am committed to the best interests of you, my client, I function as your “wingman,” and provide a needed buffer or filter between you and other agents and Internet data.
  • I have the local knowledge and the professional experience to identify any misrepresentation on the part of the seller regarding the condition of the home, the reliability of an inspection report, liens against the property, or an unclear chain of title.
  • I will know, or I can research quickly, if properties you identify online are under contract by the time you connect with me.
  • Internet listings are unlikely to provide a deep knowledge of neighborhoods or to answer questions about the community, schools, etc. adequately. I live and work in this community. I am very knowledgeable about the facts and about the history and residents of a neighborhood.
  • Because I work in this specific area, I have seen and I know what properties have sold. I can, therefore, function as a barometer of property value.
  • Because of my local knowledge and experience, I can actually evaluate asking to sale prices based upon improvements and square footage of a house.
  • Internet sources cannot evaluate views (very important in the Seattle-Bellevue-Lake Washington area), curb appeal, amenities, etc. Many of these desirable attributes are very subjective and do not fit well into internet site algorithms. Here, my history living and working in the community is helpful.
  • I understand the market conditions that govern asking prices and time for sale. I can bring this information to your attention. A website cannot.
  • Internet sources cannot identify the challenges homeowners may face with particular properties. I understand the challenges and I can propose real solutions.
  • I have strong working relationships with other service providers, such as inspectors, appraisers, lenders, other agents (to find listings), and trades people for repairs. My recommendations are based on my knowledge and experience of quality and reliability.
  • The Internet has no way to reconcile inconsistencies in data. I will persevere until the inconsistencies are explained and resolved.
  • It is easy to skip over a property worthy of consideration when conducting an Internet search. I can draw upon my experience and local knowledge to consider many aspects of properties – often aspects that are not apparent from a website. Working together, we can consider all appropriate properties currently available to meet your needs.
  • Visiting properties and neighborhoods is critical. Things like walk scores and neighborhood reviews will never reveal the true flavor and color of a neighborhood or street. You need to visit, sample and taste!

Particularly in a market as competitive as Mercer Island and the communities surrounding Lake Washington, it is important to use the Internet correctly – for preliminary research. With that information in hand, call on me to guide you and to protect your interests. Good Internet research in conjunction with a good (boots on the ground) Realtor is still the best way to make your home sale or purchase a very successful experience.

If you are considering buying or selling a home, please give me a call after you do your Internet research (206-230-0833 or 206-499-4948). I am deeply committed to serving the best interests of my clients. I would be delighted to sit down and talk with you about your short term and long term real estate needs.  By the way, I’ll bring the coffee.