More than ever, consumers are beginning their search for a new home online. Check out these tips for using the Internet and getting the most out of your home search.

More than ever, consumers are beginning their search for a new home online. Check out these tips for using the Internet and getting the most out of your home search.

There are hundreds of Web sites with home listings, including giants like Trulia and Zillow, but these sites don't necessarily offer a personalized, welcoming experience. Real Living's Web 2.0 is the first of its kind in real estate. Let's take a look at what it has to offer.

Web 2.0 was launched three years ago, well ahead of its time, and offers consumers the opportunity to customize and save searches, receive up-to-date listings, choose and communicate with an agent, record and store notes about each home, schedule events and track how often their home has been viewed. With 4,000 new registrants each month, Real Living's Web 2.0 is clearly an effective technological tool that allows consumers to be in control and stay connected to their real estate agent.

Another fun and informal way to search for a home is through Google Maps. Type in the address of a home you're interested in and click on "street view." Street view allows you to evaluate the exterior of the home and get a feel for the neighborhood and community before you visit the location. Scan the area to make note of nearby restaurants and movie theaters, too.

Another great tool to gain insight into the world of real estate is blogging. Search for some real estate blogs online to stay educated and in tune with what's happening in the real estate market. All the experts are talking, so learn from them and become a part of the discussion as you search for your home. You'll learn what to look for, when to buy, which companies are on top and how to get just what you want from your home-search experience.

The real estate blog site, ActiveRain.com, is a great place to start. Another great blog site is TheRealEstateBloggers.com.

If you're in the market for a new home, look to the Internet for assistance -- it's the No. 1 place to search for a home. By taking advantage of all these tools, you'll be sure to find the home of your dreams.

For more information to aid you in your home search, contact your local agent today.

Harley E. Rouda Jr. is the CEO of Real Living, one of the nation's fastest-growing real estate companies.

Harley E.

Rouda Jr.