When we were looking for a home for sale in Hot Springs, we scoured the newspaper and devoured the real estate magazines and looked online. We would know what we wanted when we saw it. We were limiting our search, even though we were working hard. Too hard.
It boils down to some logical facts: Most any agency cannot afford to put ALL of its listings in print advertising. Is print a waste of time? By NO means. It IS limiting though. Newspaper has few to NO photographs, and looking through the magazines you are going off curb appeal alone (curb appeal is important, but it is only one aspect of a HOME). If you have the time to read through every description on every home it will help. Internet is a major search standard for folks, as somewhere (depending on who you listen to) around 80% of people BEGIN their search for a home on the internet. Still though, searching the internet by yourself on most of the engines out there is still limiting you (even mine here). There just aren't enough parameters to enter in them, and some of the big box sites get a LOT of their info WRONG (for instance, the closest school as the crow flies is not always the school district the home is in).
An agent usually pays some pretty hefty bucks to be a Realtor® (the 2 are not the same), which make the agent a member of the local multilist, and withn that multilist should be a pretty hefty search engine with loads of parameters that can be entered and reported. This is why you should use an agent. They should be able to not search only a school district, but even certain subdivisions within that district and then be able to manually look through construction dates of the homes ... it can get pretty detailled... at least that's what I pay for. Add that to the fact that agents are almost always talking about, or going to see listings.. not just their own, but all over the mls, and that right there helps save YOU time and gas... of course there are other benefits, but we will save those for later :)