Back in the old days, a property hunt was purely a Saturday morning thing.

Get up, get the paper, make little circles and drive around for hours, looking at horrible houses a world away from their 20-word newspaper descriptions.

Light and airy?

More like west-facing and boiling hot. Unique should read ugly and as for Art Deco, I challenge any real estate agent to provide an adequate description of what that really means.

Hence the two-pronged beauty of the internet. Not only does it allow for forward-planning of Saturday house-hunts, but the inclusion of photos in on-line ads means there’s no way to disguise the true ugliness of a home.

Sure, they might still be able to get away with calling a house on the highway handy to transport, but they won’t be able to hide the narrow hallways or horribly stained cork floors.

Most agencies have their own websites, but three of the easiest and best guides to available Sydney properties are domain.com.au, realestate.com.au and justlisted.com.au.

As the smart agents recognise the current trend for bored office workers to obsess over real estate websites and get on as many as they can, there is a bit of site crossover.

But not as much as you’d expect.

On a random day last week, justlisted.com.au had 65 Surry Hills apartments listed while domain.com.au had 121 and realestate.com.au had 98.

In terms of houses in Newtown, it was a similar story: domain.com.au 51, realestate.com.au 45 and justlisted.com.au 38.

The real estate sites are also a good research tool.

Most have links to lending services and calculators to work out how much you will be able to borrow, without having to visit the bank.

Realestate.com.au has a handy should I rent or should I buy? calculator, which, among other things, works out that 10 years of rent can easily equal almost $300,000.

Ouch.

There’s also online suburb profiles with useful data -“ especially if you’re judging your new residence on the population of women versus men or vice versa.

Enmore, for example, has more women aged under 30 but more men aged 30 to 40.

Surry Hills is, as expected, bursting with men aged 20 to 40, with kids in only 18 percent of homes.

On domain.com.au you can learn that most people in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and East Sydney walk to work.

There’s no suggestion that internet property sites will replace print ads as the primary connecting point between those selling their homes and those hoping to buy, but more and more house-hunters are logging on to get a better look.

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