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Study: Growth in Net for home research

Associated Press

NEW YORK - A new study finds that more Americans are using the Internet to find a place to live, thanks to the greater wealth of home listings and other real-estate information online.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project said Wednesday that 39 percent of online Americans have gone online in search of a place to buy or rent. That's an increase from 34 percent in 2004 and 27 percent in 2000.

More than half of online adults under 30 have done so, possibly reflecting the fact that they are typically more transient. Nine percent of the Internet users ages 18-29 said they looked for housing information on a typical day, compared with 4 percent two years earlier.

Home listings, once printed out in books available only to real-estate agents, are now obtainable by anyone online, accompanied by increasingly sophisticated photographs and virtual tours.

Services like Zillow.com also are cropping up to help people judge house prices, survey neighborhoods and evaluate school districts, long before they ever snap the seat belt in their agents' cars.

Pew previously found that about half of Internet users have taken virtual tours, including checking out a home available for rent or for sale. And nearly a third have used an online classified service like Craigslist, where housing information is circulated.

The telephone survey on real estate was conducted in August with 972 Internet users and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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