High-speed house hunting: 18 best real estate sites

by Barbara Corcoran /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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What makes a good real estate Web site and where should you look for what? I have compiled a list of places to find the best information fast — sites that require the fewest clicks and offer the most detailed, current information. From snooping into your neighbor's backyard to finding a foreclosure property, discover the best Web sites to get what you need:

Most houses to choose from: Realtor.com 

This is the official site of the National Association of Realtors, which lists over 3 million properties for sale and rent.

Best local information: Terabitz

This is a right-brain approach to home shopping.  Buyers can create “mashups” of data by dropping “bitz” of information they’re interested in, things like restaurants, shops, banks and cafes. 

Best site to price comparable properties: Trulia

Currently listed and recently sold properties appear on the page with each “for sale” listing, along with graphs showing how that house compares with similar homes. It also gives you the year built, square footage and sales history.

To find out what your neighbor’s house is worth: Zillow.com

Zillow estimates the market value of more than 67 million homes. All you need is the address.

Find the right neighborhood: Neighborhoodscout.com

Click “Build a Neighborhood” and describe your dream. They’ll instantly give you the neighborhood that’s just right for you.

Buy a house at auction: eBay.com

The “world’s largest marketplace” also has plenty of properties for auction in all 50 states and many foreign countries.

To find a foreclosure property: Propertyshark.com

This is an easy-to-use site with plenty of listings.

Buy a house without a broker: Forsalebyowner.com

It gives you the owner’s name and phone number so you can contact them directly. 

Get Zagat-like reviews of a particular street: Streetadvisor.com

Local residents and visitors submit detailed descriptions and ratings of streets and blocks. It includes overall atmosphere, cell phone, TV and Internet reception and whether or not the street is good value for the money.

Snoop into your neighbors’ backyards:Zillow.com

“Bird’s Eye View” gives high-resolution, 3D-like aerial views of anyone’s backyard. You can check out your neighbor’s noisy basketball court or the local neighborhood dump. 

Get the dish on noisy neighbors: Rottenneighbor.com

You’ll find where the “smelly hippies,” “psycho pet haters” and the “mean old lady with no life” live. It also gives you information on the great neighbors, too!

Check out the schools: Homefair.com

Get a free school report for any city or town in the country.

Check on local crime rates: Areaconnect.com/crime

Compares crime rates based on FBI crime stats.

Find local sex offenders: Familywatchdog.us

The maps here show you where offenders live and work, and the crimes they’ve committed.

Check out the local job market: bls.gov/eag/

This Web site tells you how many new jobs are being created and how many jobs are being lost city by city. Statistics and charts are easy to read.

To talk with your soon-to-be new neighbor before you buy: Meetup.com

Whether you’re interested in politics, dogs, poker or physics, it will connect you with a group of like-minded souls in the neighborhood.

Most homes for rent: Craigslist.org

Gives you the price and lets you contact the owner directly.

Swap your house with someone else: Homelink.org

This is the largest international house-swapping site.

Now you have everything you need to buy a home without moving a muscle. Happy hunting!

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