In the midst of the U.S. housing crisis, just over three years into living in Seattle, we decided it was time to put down more permanent roots and buy a house in the Pacific Northwest. While much of the initial search was focused on houses in the city of Seattle, we ended up buying a house on Bainbridge Island, which is in many ways like a small town connected to the city via a ferry. While I’ve been warned that I will regret living on an island as a slave to the ferry schedule, I find myself reminding the nay-sayers that I currently only leave my house for work-related commitments once a week, so I’m not really on a “normal” schedule.
Although I didn’t use their services for the transaction portion of the house search, I can’t imagine shopping for a house without the assistance of technology like Redfin. The site makes shopping for a house an absolute dream – you get great data on MLS listings with what I believe to be close to the same speed as agents get access to the information. Some big real estate company should buy them for their technology because I don’t think the idea of Redfin as real estate agent will hold up over time. I never once considered not using a real person as a real estate agent (we lucked out – Patrick Johnson from Century 21 was outstanding) because I wanted a real person I knew I could call on with questions. I didn’t feel like I’d get that same level of comfort using something like Redfin as my agent.
The other tech component of this recent real estate shopping experience I have mixed feelings about is LendingTree.com. They certainly deliver on getting a bunch of mortgage providers to contact you, but I get the feeling that they also sell your name to other services as well. Since using LendingTree.com, I’ve had a huge influx of what I consider junk mail in finance-related categories. I don’t have proof that Lending Tree played any role in this, but the coincidence is eerie. I did wind up going through a local lender as a result, which was also a great experience, so if I can figure out how to avoid forwarding the junk mail I think the net result will be well worth it.
If I’m a bit slow in answering email this week, it’s likely because I’m either painting or packing. Please be patient, I can assure you I’d rather be doing almost anything than either of those two projects.