Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

These Home Pages Can Help Home Buyers Do Their Homework

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

These Home Pages Can Help Home Buyers Do Their Homework

Article excerpt

Ah, the smell of fresh lumber. The squish of newly installed carpet. The dazzling shine of untarnished plumbing fixtures. And the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and just-out-of-the-oven cookies set out to entice home buyers.

The Internet certainly is no substitute for a walk-through of a model home, but it can better prepare you to take the major financial plunge of buying a new home.

And if you're planning to build a home or remodel your existing residence, there are plenty of Web sites that can help you choose a floor plan, select a builder or remodeler and calculate how much house you can afford.

One of the slickest of these "home pages" is Buildscape.com (www.buildscape.com), created by Jacksonville-based Riverside Group Inc., which also owns Jacksonville Internet services company Cybermax Inc. and 51 percent of building materials supplier Wickes Inc.

At Buildscape, you can plug in your preferences for a new home and the site's search engine will find house plans that best suit your needs. With a click and a credit card number, you can order the plans online.

The site has a searchable databases listing thousands of builders, remodelers, subcontractors and suppliers across the country. And through links with other sites, you can quickly search for homes for sale by brokers or owners and track down the best rates on a mortgage or home equity loan.

The "Tools Online" section is a Web-based hardware store that carries more than 8,500 tools for professionals or do-it-yourselfers. And the "Interact" area includes message boards where you can trade tips with other buyers and seek help from the pros.

To sample some of the showcase homes of Jacksonville area builders, head for the home page of the 1999 Parade of Homes (www.paradeofhomesjax.com), which wraps up today. The site includes photos of the more than 90 featured homes, floor plans and directions as well as information about the builders. …

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