Moving to Bainbridge Island
In the midst of the U.S. housing crisis, just over three years into living in Seattle, we decided it was time to put down more permanent roots and buy a house in the Pacific Northwest. While much of the initial search was focused on houses in the city of Seattle, we ended up buying a house on Bainbridge Island, which is in many ways like a small town connected to the city via a ferry. While I've been warned that I will regret living on an island as a slave to the ferry schedule, I find myself reminding the nay-sayers that I currently only leave my house for work-related commitments once a week, so I'm not really on a "normal" schedule.
Although I didn't use their services for the transaction portion of the house search, I can't imagine shopping for a house without the assistance of technology like Redfin. The site makes shopping for a house an absolute dream - you get great data on MLS listings with what I believe to be close to the same speed as agents get access to the information. Some big real estate company should buy them for their technology because I don't think the idea of Redfin as real estate agent will hold up over time. I never once considered not using a real person as a real estate agent (we lucked out - Patrick Johnson from Century 21 was outstanding) because I wanted a real person I knew I could call on with questions. I didn't feel like I'd get that same level of comfort using something like Redfin as my agent.
The other tech component of this recent real estate shopping experience I have mixed feelings about is LendingTree.com. They certainly deliver on getting a bunch of mortgage providers to contact you, but I get the feeling that they also sell your name to other services as well. Since using LendingTree.com, I've had a huge influx of what I consider junk mail in finance-related categories. I don't have proof that Lending Tree played any role in this, but the coincidence is eerie. I did wind up going through a local lender as a result, which was also a great experience, so if I can figure out how to avoid forwarding the junk mail I think the net result will be well worth it.
If I'm a bit slow in answering email this week, it's likely because I'm either painting or packing. Please be patient, I can assure you I'd rather be doing almost anything than either of those two projects.