Want to know how many square feet that dream home you found online has or if it there is a garden tub in the master bath? Be prepared to pay.
The Real Estate Information Network Inc., the consortium of over 6,000 Realtors that runs the listing service for all homes for sale in Hampton Roads, has become one of the first in the country to charge for detailed online information about homes on the market.
Browsers still can find out how many bedrooms are in the home and see a picture on the Hampton Roads REIN Web site for free, but more detailed information, such as when the home was built, costs $3.95 for a one-day pass or $4.95 for the month. The E-Pass system also is incorporated into the Web sites of the individual agencies.
The fee will help cover the costs of keeping the listing service without continuing to raise the membership fees for agencies and brokers, said Lydia Kapetanakis, REIN executive vice president.
"Information is expensive," Kapetanakis said, adding that for someone who is ready to buy, the fee is minimal. "If you're really serious and wanting to buy, you'll probably pull out that credit card and sign up."
But not all real estate agents are pleased with having potential customers pay.
Buyer's Broker of Hampton Roads Inc. in Virginia Beach posted a note on its Web site asking buyers to simply contact one of its agents, who will search the properties for free.
And if that does not help, the National Association of Realtors lets users search more than 2 million listings for free on its Realtor.com Web site, including many in the Hampton Roads area that have been individually submitted to that site.