Homefinder launches

Realtors, newspaper partner to create comprehensive Web site

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— The Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors have launched Steamboat Homefinder, a new real estate Web site.

Steamboat Homefinder (www.steamboathomefinder.com) includes a searchable database of all properties in the multiple listing service, updated real estate news, photos, videos and detailed information on the area.

"It was important for us to develop a comprehensive, user-friendly real estate site that meets the needs of locals as well as those looking to relocate to Steamboat Springs," said Suzanne Schlicht, publisher of the Pilot & Today. "We have been working on the site with our Realtor partners and we are extremely pleased with the results."

Randall Hannaway, president of the Board of Realtors and an owner-broker of Colorado Group Realty Inc., said the site will be a strong tool for those interested in the Steamboat market.

"I'm thrilled to work in a collaborative effort with the local newspaper to establish Steamboat's most comprehensive site for buyers and sellers to shop properties and compare prices," Hannaway said. "It's vital in this second-home market that people interested in visiting here have such an informational site available to them to learn more about our properties and our area prior to their arrival."

Wendy Fisher, president-elect of the Board of Realtors and owner-broker of Anchor Realty, said the Board of Realtors initially planned to develop an independent real estate site, but working with the newspaper to develop more extensive content "made perfect sense."

Fisher said the Internet continues to grow as a tool for referrals and sales and that a consolidated site with comprehensive information about the area should enhance that business further.

"We have an unusual market that has information that is unique and specific to it," Fisher said. "I think Steamboat Homefinder is a great way to give property owners accurate and timely information about our market and our local area. For example, the stories about the different areas and the detailed school information on the site are just outstanding."

The site is tailored to be easy for potential buyers to use. Steamboat Homefinder allows users to get pre-approval online through partner Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Users can collect properties of interest in individual portfolios. They can enter specific criteria about the types of property they are seeking and will receive e-mail notification when properties meeting that criteria come on the market. With a simple click, users can print fliers for the properties that interest them.

Among the site's other features:

n A database that allows property seekers to search the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service by keyword, price, location, property type, bedroom, bathroom, schools, listing agent or any combination of those criteria.

n School accountability information and a neighborhood description specific to each property listing.

n Up to four photos of each property and in some cases, video and virtual tours of the properties.

n Information and photos about the listing agents and links to their Web sites for each property listing.

n A Steamboat Springs community guide featuring detailed information on all public schools in Routt and Moffat counties, descriptions on the different real estate areas defined by the Board of Realtors and stories and photos about the Northwest Colorado area including places to visit, history, demographics, churches and more.

n A home-buying guide with tips on getting financing, owning a second home, choosing the right neighborhood, understanding the Steamboat market and other issues.

n An interactive map of Steamboat Springs highlighting noteworthy attractions in the city and downloadable maps of Steamboat, Routt County, Hayden, Oak Creek, Yampa and Phippsburg.

n Virtual tours of local attractions including downtown, Fish Creek Falls, Centennial Hall, the Yampa River Botanic Park and Bud Werner Memorial Library.

n Videos -- produced by the Pilot & Today and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. -- of cross country skiing, Howelsen Ice Arena, snowmobiling, swimming at the Health and Recreation Association and other activities often associated with Steamboat and Northwest Colorado.

"The Internet is a huge part of the real estate market," Fisher said. "It's like shopping for cars on Sunday. You can sit down and see what's out there, which properties meet your needs. You can shop brokers as well.

"More and more, it will become the way it is done. That's why Steamboat Homefinder is so important."

On the site, Realtors can enhance their listings by adding custom headlines, photo captions, agent photographs, agent profiles, virtual tours of the property, video of the properties, more detailed descriptions, amenities, open house details and other information. Realtors can also gather user information from the site.

Schlicht and advertising director Bryna Larsen already have held several demonstrations for Realtors. Schlicht said those wishing to see a demonstration or to get more information on using the site should call her at 871-4224 or Larsen at 871-4202.

Fisher said initial response has been favorable.

"We're just getting going with it, but we have gotten really good feedback so far," she said. "The Realtors I have spoken to are really pleased with the look of it. They are already steering people to the site. "

Steamboat Homefinder is the newspaper's foray into Web design, a service now available to area businesses. Those interested in assistance with Web design or development, should contact Schlicht or Larsen.

"Homefinder demonstrates the kind of dynamic design and user friendliness we can bring to the Web," Schlicht said. "We're excited about the opportunities it provides for our business, and we are eager to extend these services to real estate firms and area businesses."

To reach Scott Stanford, call 871-4221

or e-mail sstanford@steamboatpilot.com

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