Steamboat Homefinder wins national award

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Steamboat Homefinder has been named the best real estate Web site in the nation among newspapers its size by the Newspaper Association of America.

The Web site -- www.steamboathomefinder.com -- earned a Digital Edge Award on Monday at the NAA's annual interactive media conference in Dallas. Pilot & Today Advertising Director Bryna Larsen was in Dallas to accept the award.

Steamboat Homefinder also won the Digital Edge Award last year.

Each year since 1996, the NAA has presented "Edgies" to the best newspaper Web sites in several categories: news, innovative use of digital media, features/enterprise, entertainment, visitor participation, automotive, employment, advertising and real estate.

Steamboat Homefinder was launched in May 2003 and is a joint effort of the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors and the Steamboat Pilot & Today. The staff of the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, the Pilot & Today's sister newspaper, assisted with development of the site.

"Steamboat Homefinder's hometown emphasis and relationship with the local Board of Realtors propelled the site to its second Edgie in a row," contest judges said. "The site supplements its listings with multimedia content, particularly video clips of community festivals and 360-degree tours of prominent locations that give prospective home buyers an excellent community overview of Steamboat Springs."

The Pilot & Today was the smallest newspaper to receive one of the 22 Edgies presented Monday. The Pilot & Today received its award in the category for newspapers with circulations of 75,000 or less.

"Winning this award in consecutive years is a tremendous honor," said Suzanne Schlicht, publisher of the Pilot & Today. "I am very proud of our staff, and I am very grateful for our partnership with the Board of Realtors on this site. This award would not be possible without the Realtors' help and cooperation."

Steamboat Homefinder was recently updated and redesigned. The site includes a searchable database of all properties in the Multiple Listing Service, updated real estate news, photos, videos and detailed information about the area.

The site is tailored to be easy for potential buyers to use. 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 receive e-mail notification when properties meeting that criteria come on the market.

Among the site's other features:

A database that allows property seekers to search the Multiple Listing Service by key word, price, location, property type, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, schools, listing agent or any combination of those criteria.

Public school accountability information and a neighborhood description specific to each property listing.

Photos of each property and, in some cases, video and virtual tours of the properties.

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

A Steamboat Springs community guide featuring detailed information about all public schools in Routt and Moffat counties, descriptions and maps of every neighborhood in the multiple listing service, and stories and photos about the Northwest Colorado area including places to visit, history, demographics, churches and more.

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

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

Virtual photo tours of local attractions and videos of cross-country skiing, the community ice arena, snowmobiling and other activities often associated with Steamboat and Northwest Colorado.

The Palm Beach Post's Real Estate Channel -- www.palmbeachpost.com/realestate -- won in the real estate category for newspapers with circulations between 75,000 and 250,000. The New York Times -- http://realestate.nytimes.com -- won in the category for newspapers with circulations of 250,000 or more.

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