What's the best source for real-estate information?

In past generations, if you were looking to buy a home, the process was pretty straightforward: You’d get the Sunday paper, pull out the real-estate section, and pour over the classified ads. Since the dawn of the digital age, though, the process has changed entirely. There’s much more information available now, which can certainly make things easier, but it can complicate the search as well.

Blogs like this one are an obvious first stop for prospective home buyers, but there several other sources – on the Web and elsewhere – that people use to shop for condos in Chicago. For example, Comcast recently unveiled its new unveiled Real Estate On Demand, which provides broadcast-quality video tours of condos and new homes. Real Estate On Demand is free to the more than 1 million subscribers to digital cable in the Chicago area, and they can browse through a cache of videos and listings with their TV remotes.

There are also a number of new Web sites that have changed the way we shop for new homes. Move.com, the official listing website of the National Association of Home Builders, has emerged as a nationwide search engine for real-estate listings. Homescape.com, a joint venture of five of the country’s biggest media companies, has pursued a similar niche, creating a search engine for more than two million homes nationwide. Homescape partnered with more than 125 different newspapers from across the country, aggregating real-estate classified ads from across the country on one website.

I think we all agree that new construction Web sites are rarely intuitive or informative. So which sites are most helpful (aside from YoChicago, of course), and what kind of information matters most (prices, pictures, floor plans, etc.)?

What are your favorite sources of local and national real-estate information? Are you a Cribchatter junkie? Is Chicago Condos Online in your RSS reader? Feel free to gush (or gripe) about your blog roll and bookmarks.

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