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Builders luring potential buyers to Web

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

Reader Jo Anne Caruso asks a really good question. She wants to know whether there’s a single online site where she can search for new homes and neighborhoods in the Charlotte area.

“It’s kind of difficult to drive up and down roads looking for new developments and then figure out if they have the type of home you are looking for,” she emailed.

As Caruso has discovered, builders want to attract you to their own company websites. One way they accomplish that is to omit locations from their advertising.

Real estate might boil down to “location, location, location” but these days builders sometimes don’t even mention location in highway, print and television advertising.

I understand that. I’m sure Caruso does, too. Everybody, from your bank to your newspaper, wants to pull you to a corporate site. They want to establish contact, start a conversation and build an online or mobile relationship. Those relationships have value.

And I’d still like to know where the heck that neighborhood is.

Anyway ...

You can find new homes listed at, the official site of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. But there are three or four times as many existing homes listed, according to educated guesses. Association spokeswoman Kim Walker explains simply that new homes aren’t Realtors’ primary business.

You can start your search at, the site of the National Association of Realtors. You can find new homes on Trulia and Zillow, which are among the most widely known of the other powerhouse sites.

This isn’t entirely objective, of course, but check out the Observer’s home search tool, powered by

I searched for new single-family homes, priced from $200,000 to $300,000 with three bedrooms and two baths. Up popped 179 listings, by many of the most familiar builders in the region.

This is hardly scientific, but there’s another site that I’ve seen mentioned in national industry blogs and newsletters. It’s New Home Source, at It bills itself as the largest of its kind and sure looks as if it might be.

On New Home Source, I used the same search parameters. The site said it found a whopping 877 new homes matching those criteria.

Both searches featured listings and ads for many of the top new-home builders in the market. In no particular order, here are some examples: Ryland, Wieland, Orleans, Ryan, Niblock, Weekley, M/I, D.R. Horton. You can compare the offerings all in one place.

Read carefully and, by and by, the builders’ online sales pitches surely will reveal the locations of the homes and communities.

It’s way easier to manage that at your breakfast table, on your tablet or laptop, rather than on a billboard on Interstate 77.

Special to the Observer:

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