Editor's note: A new wave of online real estate innovators is gathering force, offering consumers more interactive and comprehensive online home searches and more transparency in property data and transactions. In this three-part report, we explore how newcomers like Zillow, Trulia, HomeThinking, PropertyShark, Redfin and others are bringing a new focus to the online consumer. (See Part 2 and Part 3.) When Matthew Haines, founder of real estate data site PropertyShark, tried to buy a brownstone in New York City's Harlem neighborhood a few years ago, he found himself adrift in a sea of frustration. "I would look at a brownstone and the real estate agent would say, 'That's $800,000,' and I'd say, 'My friend just bought one for $450,000,' and I'd ask the broker for some comparable sales and he'd look at me like I was crazy," Haines said. "I was so pissed off by the experience that I said, 'Not only am I going to get that data myself, I am going to share it with the world...
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