There was a time less than fifteen years ago, prior to the world wide web,where you began your search for a home,very differently than today.
You either drove around a neighborhood(s) that you desired to live in, and jotted down numbers on 'For Sale' signs.
Another way was gleaning the classified section of your local newspaper that was probably delivered to your home, every morning, for real-estate advertisements of homes available.
The third way, if you were so inclined was to walk into a real-estate office and meet with the agent who was on floor duty.
The fourth way, was to visit open houses.
While some business is still done those ways, most people now begin their search for a home online.
There are plethora of real-estate portals like Realtor.com or more recently Zillow. After you know the MLS number of a home you're interested in, you then contact the listing Reator for more information.
The Brokerage will have their own website as will most agents. Virtual tours give the prospective buyer a panoramic view of both the inside and outside of the home. You probably wouldn't buy a home this way, but it is a great tool, for either eliminating , or sparking further interest.
Once social networks like Facebook and Twitter became mainstream, this has further enhanced your home search. However it is only useful if the agent knows to utilize it to its full potential. This means updating it when appropriate and not having too much clutter or fluff.
Speaking of real-estate agents, the web has facilitated their MLS search greatly, from the days of using static MLS books that were delivered to the office weekly.
Some savvy salespeople even use the inter webs to get leads of prospective buyers and sellers.
But like maximizing a real-estate agent's presence on Facebook, their own website has to be multi -functional and state of the art.
The real-estate Web 2.0 has resulted in being able to retrieve information instantly even if you are not at home, via your tablet or smartphone.
Therefore,while the internet has greatly facilitated the home buying/selling process, real-estate is still a people business and a home is a tangible physical asset, where the buyer needs to feel that indescribable emotional attachment upon viewing the particular home(s). When that time comes and they are ready to make an offer.