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By Jim Gerland and Mark Winer

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Thinking of Buying a House?
May 2, 1996

We are happy to see the end of a long winter. And with that, a chance to start our Spring house cleaning - or is that house purchasing? With the warm weather and longer days it's one of the busiest times for buying and selling homes. In the past you could watch the weekend TV home shows in hope of finding your dream house. But today, instead of waiting for the home to come to you, why not go take a look at what's out there? Instead of getting your shoes on, sit back, turn on your modem and get connected to the Internet. All you need to do is pay attention to the Internet addresses below and you'll be zipping in and out of house listings all around the world. Remember that your browser may require you to type http:// in front of these addresses.

Buying a home is the most important financial decision we will make in our lifetimes. That's why you'll want all the information you can have at your disposal. For general news stories about real estate take a look at the Banking, Finance & Real Estate section of NewsPage (www.newspage.com). NewsPage is a source of daily business news with thousands of categorized stories updated daily from over 600 information sources. Another source for real estate information is ired.com (www.ired.com) where you can even list your house. For some interesting tips on buying a home go to the Best Buyer's Guide (www.mcn.org/a/bestres/buyers.htm).

Not sure if you can afford that dream house? You can do some fast calculations using some neat resources found on the Internet. A quick and easy calculator can be found at National InterAd (www.nia.com/homes/mcalculator1.cgi). Another mortgage calculator is incorporated in the Dream Home Network real estate site (www.islandsd.com/island/dreamhm/main/lncalc.html). A nice feature here is a listing of the current national interest rates and a link to Mortgage Market Information Services, Inc. (www.interest.com/rates.html) which lists mortgage rates for selected US cities. You can also find calculators for refinancing your home at www.financenter.com/homeloan/AFI/refi.htm.

After checking your finances maybe you've decided to forego purchasing. If you are looking to rent an apartment check out the On-line Apartment Guide (www.rent.net). There are over 400,000 units listed for the US and Canada. Listings include photographs, floor plans, location maps, e-mail links to leasing agents and a comparison feature to help you put it all together. There are also links to relocation-related services such as Ryder Truck (www.ryder.com). Currently there are a few local listings for Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Williamsville.

Perhaps you are in the market to buy a home. There are numerous sites pertaining to local, regional and national real estate. If you're looking for a start on finding a local real estate agent, check out the Real Estate directory of the Greater Buffalo Partnership (www.gbpartnership.org/members/real.html). Saperston Real Estate (www.saperston.com) and MJ Peterson (www.mjpeterson.com) are local agencies with web sites. The Saperston site is filled with information on a variety of services that are offered and several commercial listings in the Western New York area. There are pictures of some of the listings, but give yourself some time as they are rather large and can take some time to display. MJ Peterson has a wealth of current listings of the Buffalo area, descriptions of their services, and a number of color photographs of commercial listings.

More and more businesses are getting on the Internet every day. To see if there are any additional local real estate agencies on the Internet we recommend using your favorite search engine. You could try Yahoo (www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Real_Estate) or search Alta Vista (www.altavista.digital.com). Remember to search with key words such as Buffalo, Western New York, or the particular region you're investigating.

Doing a search is also a good start if you are looking for a property outside of Buffalo. One of the great things about the Internet is that you can check out properties around the world from the convenience of your computer! Many real estate agents are listing properties with pictures and pricing on-line. Some listings even provide virtual tours of homes! Some national agencies on the Internet which have local listings include Properties On-line (propol.com/pol/), ReMax (www.remax.com) and PalNet (thesinglesource.com/palnet/), a worldwide public access listing network for real estate. Another, HomeScout (homescout.com), offers listings of over 216,000 homes from 85 different real estate World Wide Web sites. Included is a great form that lets you search for a house depending on geographic location, cost and other parameters.

If you're thinking of having a home built, check out Builder On-line (www.builderonline.com) for a look at one of the leading magazines for the home building industry. This site is packed with information about the latest news and products. We found the House Plans section to be very cool.

Once you've purchased that home you're going to want to get started on home improvement projects. Where else would you want to get information but from Steve and Norm from This Old House? Go to the Pathfinder site (pathfinder.com) and scroll down to This Old House under the Home & Hobbies category. Check out the on-line version of their magazine which has plenty of tips and tricks for refurbishing that old house of yours. And don't forget to scan the Hometime site (www.hometime.com). Hometime is a do-it-yourself, home-improvement series seen on public television which provides the average homeowner with step-by-step instruction and helpful advice. Of course you could always check out "Tool Time" at the Home Improvement site at the Touchstone television site (www.tvplex.com/TVplex/Touchstone/).

Remember, we want to make this column interesting and useful for you. Feel free to contact us and let us know how we're doing. You can email us, edge@edgeglobal.com , or fax us, (716) 853-1350 and let us know what's happening on the Internet in WNY or any computing related activities you're involved with.