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Internet fires up interest in real estate

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Stroll around a few restaurants in Reno, Nev., and you'll likely hear chatter among friends about the sales prices of their neighbors' houses. Real estate veteran Lyle Martin said the topic of conversation among residents in this market is reminiscent of past housing booms during which owning a home seemed to be the most important subject on everyone's mind. But while sellers are seeing dollar signs, buyers are panicking, according Martin, founder and co-owner of Assist-2-Sell, a national full-service brokerage that sells homes at discounted commission rates. He said more buyers are turning every month to the company's Web site in search of home-buying assistance. "We don't have a market time of days; we have a market time of hours," he said. Martin's observations indicate home buyers' confidence in the real estate market is stronger than ever–strong enough that most are willing to pay more than they'd planned to buy a house that isn't exactly what they wanted. The Conference B...