By Senior producer
msnbc.com
updated 10/5/2006 1:57:25 PM ET 2006-10-05T17:57:25
COMMENTARY

When the real estate market slumps, it drags down other industries with it.  The obvious ones are construction, home design and home furnishing.

But lately, a drop in housing market values means a drop in dot com profits, as well.

Today, analysts are expressing some concern that Yahoo!’s third quarter will be the lowest of the year, partially because of a drop off in real estate advertising.

In the past year, the Internet has become the most popular place to buy and sell homes.  As housing sales on the Web grew in popularity, the amount of money realtors spent on online advertising grew, as well.

That is rapidly changing.  Sites like Craigslist, which offers no-fee listings, are much more attractive to sellers and buyers.

The bust for the big guys like Yahoo! has also provided a boost for up-and-coming specialty sites like Zillow.com and Realtor.com, as well as older leaders like AOL Real Estate and MSN Real Estate.

Zillow.com
Zillow allows users to get the market estimate on their own homes, and any other home listed.  With over 68 million in the sites database, odds are good you will find your property there.

It’s as simple as typing in your address and clicking send.  In moments, Zillow gives you an estimate, or “Zestimate,” of the fair market value based on the information they have access to.

One bone of contention for users has been low estimates that don’t take renovations or new construction into account.  Enough people complained, and now Zillow lets you edit your own home estimate, wiki style.

Realtor.com
Realtor.com also has a tool for obtaining an estimate on your home, but it is primarily a site for buyers and sellers currently in the market.

The site gives you access to more than 3 million properties currently available, in addition to rental listings and online neighborhood tours.

Users like the one stop shopping here, as you can find the property, find a mover, and even find home and garden supplies and information all in one place.

AOL and MSN Real Estate
AOL Real Estate and MSN Real Estate are similar.  Both feature up-to-date information about the housing market, rental and sale listings, and helpful guides for first time buyers.

Of the two, AOL is more visually appealing and features some pleasant surprises like information about purchasing a foreclosure, for example.

Happy house hunting!

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