How to Get Help on The Internet 

Dear Monty: My wife and I are new to computers and the Internet. We are interested in all the real estate sites because we are considering downsizing. When we have questions about navigating, searching, and getting help, we fumble around. Some of these sites seem difficult to get help. Can you give us some pointers?

Monty’s Answer: As the Internet has evolved over the past 20 years, several types of websites have emerged. Some fit into multiple categories. Here are five commonly deployed real estate websites and how they communicate.

  1. Websites: Real estate websites are ubiquitous. Examples include real estate companies, agents, trade associations, and associated industries such as land surveyors, title companies, appraisers, and home improvement companies. They often provide property listings, market data, and resources for buyers and sellers. They provide multiple information pages where you can insert your email address to receive information, ask questions, live chat, or call. Some may have a bot – short for robot – that simulates human activity. These sites generate leads for the site owners. Examples are Redfin,, and the National Association of Realtors.

  2. Blogs: Blogs are generally one page where you scroll one page down to the bottom to get information and may or may not have a link to additional information. Individuals or companies typically create blogs to share their insights, expertise, and experiences in the real estate industry. Some allow you to ask questions or post comments. They also generate potential customers. They are easy to build and inexpensive to operate compared to the others. Examples are Engadget, BiggerPockets, and Mashable.

  3. Platforms: Think of a real estate platform as a theater where outside software applications can come in and connect with the original software. This feature allows the software product to expand its service offerings. You can get support by submitting a support ticket. Only a few companies have the scope and power of a platform. They are expensive to build and maintain and designed for a mass audience. Examples are Zillow, Trulia, and social media companies like Twitter, as social media has become a powerful real estate tool. 

  4. SaaS: The acronym SaaS stands for “service as a software.” These companies are subscription-based, on-demand software as service-based solutions for real estate. They differ from platforms in that they are product specific. They use bots, instructional videos, and written directions to help you navigate and communicate. They also work hard to make your journey so easy that you do not need to speak with someone. When they achieve this state, they can operate inexpensively compared to your other choices. Examples are DocuSign, Dotloop, and SmartRent. 

  5. Marketplace: The marketplace has the widest reach in web design. A real estate marketplace is an online platform that connects real estate vendor services with their customers or from one customer to another. A marketplace is in the multichannel e-commerce vertical; its primary task is to enable smooth transactions and service exchange. Examples are Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia. 

New Entrants

Finally, there are always new entrants as the real estate internet evolves. Not long ago, all of the companies mentioned above were once start-ups. While these companies are early in the space, they are worth investigating. Because they are the newest entries, they likely offer new features and benefits than earlier websites. Examples are, a new company that closes real estate transactions online;, which is operating disruptive multiple real estate-related companies; and, an advertising company specializing in peer-to-peer single-family home ads that complete the entire real estate transaction online – with zero real estate commissions. A home seller can purchase an ad page for their home, communicate directly with a potential buyer, set appointments, negotiate the sale terms, complete the sale documents, and close the transaction online to keep all their equity. Technology and innovation made this revolutionary development possible.

Author Note: The photo above depicts one way adults new to the internet can get help closer to home. Ask one of your children or grandchildren for help.

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