Today's consumers move more & more to online shopping for everything they need including Real Estate.  

I think that is a great way to start your search for your new home or property but the benefits of working with a successful Realtor is that they know more about the community and market trends than you can find online.  They also understand the important parts of the Sales contract that will help protect you in the sales process not to mention a successful Realtor is usually a very good negotiator.  

Also even before the new banking laws, there were many things to followup on to ensure a smooth on time closing and now it is even more difficult for that process to be accomplished and to try to do this without a seasoned, successful Realtor it is even more difficult.  

So when you are ready to purchase your new home, ask the questions of your Realtor such as:

How long have you been in business?
How many Transactions did you close in the last 2 years?
How much sales volume did you close in the last 2 years?
What is your percentage of success from contract to close?