Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

October 13, 1999. All rights reserved.

Surfing for Houses: Web Pointers

In the old days we would advise homebuyers to determine

a neighborhood they find desirable, go there, and then drive around

looking for likely houses. Then contact the listing broker and start

negotiating. That still works, but now much of the initial footwork

can be done by a virtual tour. Here are some tips:

1. Find the city. If you are still deciding whether to

live in Austin or Santa Fe, use Coldwell Banker’s nationwide site

for the consistency of its data. It links to

and offers a comparison of home prices. For instance, a $250,000 house

in Mercer County would cost $181,000 in Baltimore and $593,000 in

Greenwich, Connecticut.

2. Find the neighborhood. Microsoft’s

probably has the broadest database. If you are moving to a new

city and are looking for a Princeton-like place, check out the preschools.

Which ones have Montessori or Quaker schools?

3. Find a selection of houses. Search on

— which has the most listings — by zip code or town. Because

zip codes take precedence over municipal lines, a search on 08540,

for instance, will likely produce as many houses outside of Princeton’s

borough or township as in them.

4. Find the realtor. Are there a bunch of listings from

the same office? Go to that home page and link to someone there. "You

want somebody to represent you, because the private network is faster,"

says Carl DeMusz of Greater Regional MLS. "You want your realtor

to keep you in mind when they check their hot sheets, which they do

multiple times a day."

5. Keep your overnight bag packed. Good buys don’t last.

— Barbara Fox

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