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Issi Romem

Your Zillow Account Makes It Costlier to Buy a Home

The internet forces buyers to race and make an offer, driving up prices.
Home browsing from the couch.

Home browsing from the couch.

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

In the technologist’s dream world, buying a home would be easy. You would have all the information you need at your fingertips without having to get off the couch. Once your mind was made up, it would require little more than pushing a button to make an offer. The only thing that might test your patience would be waiting for the seller to respond. Preparing a home for sale would be more difficult to do from the couch, but it too would be much easier than today.

Reality has yet to catch up with the technologist’s dream, but that day is coming. By putting listings and a wealth of supporting information into people’s hands, home-buying portals such as Zillow have made it possible to browse homes in great detail from anywhere with a web connection. At the same time, other companies such as Ellie Mae have helped make the industry more efficient by streamlining mortgage applications, appraisals, documentation and so on. Thanks to such innovation, the time it takes to search for a home and buy or sell happens faster than ever.