South Bend on the Web’s Hottest House Sites

by Nick Molnar on July 27, 2006

With the advent of Web 2.0, many real estate Web-sites are offering new services and new hype. Though well-funded national Web-sites can offer staggering technical services, much of real estate remains local and beyond their ken. Additionally, South Bend is a secondary market, so many services aren’t active in our area. Below is a look at four of the best new real estate Web-sites and their performance in South Bend. The sites are often entertaining and useful, but they lack the local knowledge and human touch real estate often requires.

Zillow

Experience: Zillow offers a map based search of homes, allowing you to learn Zillow’s estimated value of each property. While the idea of easy access to every homes value is compelling, these estimates reportedly vary wildly. Phoenix based Greg Swann recently wrote a lengthy article about the inaccuracy of their “Zestimates.” Regardless of their accuracy, Zillow has NO data on South Bend homes.

Analysis: A great technical format with a possibly flawed premise. Estimated home values created sight unseen or by a formula should not be considered authoritative. You can check the assessed tax value of your South Bend home to see another often innacurate formula-based valuation.

Realtor.com

Experience: This is the most established player, run by the National Association of Realtors. A quick search returned 1,644 properties for sale in South Bend. Their “request a showing” button summons a form for you to enter your contact information, which will be sent to a Realtor as a “lead.” Searching for a realtor in South Bend returns seven pages of Realtor mug shots and Web-site links with little to differentiate them.

Analysis: An ad-heavy but functional way to view properties in the area, but a poor way to choose a Realtor.

Redfin

Experience: This is a limited service online brokerage with the motto “we refund 2/3 of your commission.” It’s an interesting addition to brokerage options where it is available, currently only in San Francisco and Seattle (not in South Bend). It is also for those who are already VERY comfortable with buying and selling homes. If successful it will eventually reach Indiana.

Analysis: The search is akin to Realtor.com with a limited scope but better technology. You use a map and search for active listings based on your criteria. After you find a property the difference is stark. Redfin offers only on-line and phone support. This is as close as you can currently come to buying a home on the Web. Don’t expect much guidance or much of a personal touch.

Craig’s List

Experience: This is the local version of the popular, text-based on-line classified. It’s worth scanning for hidden gems, but contains many ads which are not for South Bend real estate, e.g. “great leads for Realtors” and “Invest or Retire in Arizona.”
Analysis: Craig’s List–>South Bend–>Real Estate has its place, but is better for apartments and rentals than for residential homes.

 


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