Several bits of news have popped up in the past week, reminding us just how significant real estate Web sites have become in today's market and in today's online culture.

Last Friday, Time Magazine released a list ranking the 50 Best Web Sites of 2009. Several real estate-related sites made the cut.

This, coupled with recent findings published by the Nielsen Company that shows traffic to the top U.S. real estate Web sites is up, points to the continued growing interest in real estate on the Web.

According to The Nielsen Company, which specializes in marketing and media information, real estate Web traffic climbed 11 percent between June and July 2009, from 20.7 million to 23.1 million visitors. A growth of 18 percent from the same time period in 2008 was also noted.

Buyers between the ages of 25 and 34 are 29 percent more likely to be surfing real estate Web sites, The Nielsen Company reports. And buyers without children are 32 percent more likely to visit those same sites, according to the July data.

Two of the real estate sites that made Time's best-of list are and - both of which put an incredible amount of property knowledge into the hands of would-be buyers. The sites provide such information as price history, local demographics, property taxes, photos, comparables, and owner names.

This paints a picture of a highly educated first-time home buyer, whose savvy search skills may be either lucrative and/or challenging to a real estate pro.

Other notable Web sites that made Time's Best 50 include, which literally consists of 10,000 arial shots of California's 1,000-mile-long coast (apparently, you can see Barbra Streisand's Malibu backyard), and, where you can read home and garden product reviews on everything from pillows to compost bins.

Real estate Web sites are gaining such speed that The Webby Awards- sponsored by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences-has a category honoring the best of real estate on the Internet.

The Internet is becoming an even more integral part of the real estate industry, and we are thrilled to honor the innovators that are leading the way, said David-Michel Davies, executive director of The Webby Awards.

The early deadline to enter work is Oct. 30, 2009. Real estate industry sites can also enter in interactive advertising, mobile, and video categories. Nominees will be announced in April and winners will be honored at a gala ceremony on June 14, 2010.

And, if you win, you'll be invited to give one of the Webby's famous five-word speeches.

How webby is that?