Note: This is the second in the series of paid reviews through ReviewMe.
The real estate market, often an indicator of the national economy, has been doing the yo-yo dance over the last few years and although the market looked optimistic, trends have been on the downward slide since past few months. However, this phase of home-buying has been characterized by ample information available over the Internet. The surplus amount of information is always a plus when you are about to make the biggest investment of your life. Sites like Zillow have even bared the erstwhile fiercely guarded aspects of real estate namely the price. In addition, the mobility of population especially the high-skilled ones has been enhanced by the ability to research information before making the move. Often standard of life has been an influential factor in addition to the cost of living. People may wish to live in New York for its parks, museums, and night life even though it frightfully expensive (I know, I would). Also, the tools to review as much information as possible of the new place you are planning to move to without getting off your couch are more easily available now.
Automated Homefinder is one such web service that focuses on the real estate market in Colorado. This website is a free service offered by Benchmark Realty located in Boulder County and serves a host of locations around the state. This service is basically an aggregation from several Colorado Multiple Listing Servings (MLS) including listings from public information records like foreclosures, “for sale by owner” and “real estate owned” notices. Colorado is a growing market and although demand is high, the home prices are sagging. The weather can be great especially when there is no winterstorm blowing through the region.
Automated Homefinder allows you to browse through almost 40,000 listings in Boulder, Ft. Collins, Denver, and other major cities in the state. You can specify your search criteria by home size, price range, location, and other relevant criteria options available on the site. Remember, you might have to select a city first before narrowing down your search. And also, remember not to set your price range too low. I tried looking for a home between $150,000 and $300,000 and came with nothing. Living in a small and inexpensive town can spoil you.
Be sure to check out the price ranges in each city before running a search. These price ranges are provided for 24 cities and are categorized by number of listings, minimum and maximum price, and the average price. Don’t let the million-plus maximum prices scare you. Also, be sure the average price also doesn’t fool you because it can be skewed by couple of high-end properties. More the listings, the better representative the average price will be. In addition you could also sort the cities according to all of the above factors by clicking on the up or down arrows next to the field headers. The listings however are not displayed on the screen but instead are emailed to you. I am not sure why that is so but perhaps, it is to gather information on who is requesting listings. A nifty feature is the mortgage calculator which I assume is for a quick look at your payments. So is the Appraisal Tools section which aid your home buying decisions
A couple of suggestions; in addition to the oh-so-cliched testimonials, it would be useful to let users leave comments directly on the site. This would greatly enhance the credibility of the site. Also, the site would be better served by a discussion forum where people could post questions about the city they are locating to and could be replied by residents or a support staff. Of course, the chances of misuse cannot be denied but I feel, the benefits largely outweigh the downsides. Although, there is information available on Colorado and Boulder, this section can be significantly expanded or at least a compendium of related links [some provided] be provided to help the user gather more information.
Overall, an excellent service for those planning on moving to Colorado in the near future.