Find yourself a buyer's agent. One good agent that you're comfortable with, who knows what he or she is doing. Then do your research online, find properties you like, and ask your agent to check them out.
Why? First of all, you'll be dealing with someone who represents you. Remember, the agents who've placed the ads you're responding to are either the listing agent (already representing the seller; they'd love to handle both ends of the transaction but you might feel more comfortable with a separate person representing you) or just an agent who hopes to represent you and so, at the moment, has no skin in the game.
Second, there will be a higher level of accountability. The listing agent or the third party agent has no real accountability to you (well, technically, they're supposed to treat customers in a certain fashion, but they don't know you from Adam), whereas your own agent will be accountable.
Hope that helps.
E-mail can be a very effictive way of communication but it also can be cause of frustration as the sender many times does not know if the recipient actually received the e-mail. There are things like spam filters that filter out e-mails from senders that the system does not recognize and they place them in the recipient's junk folder or reject them altogether. Thus, if you have not received a reply after having repeatedly sent an e-mail inquiry, it is possible that there is a problem with the e-mail delivery system.
I personally don't like e-mail as the initial method of contact because of the possibility that I don't receive the e-mail. However, with the Internet, e-mail is always one of the contact options and many consumer prefer e-mail as they don't have to talk to anyone, but e-mail also carries the risk of getting lost in cyberspace.
I understand your frustration. The natural reaction to not receiving a response is to feel unappreciated and unimportant. My suggestion is that you call the agent to make the initial contact. If you have to leave a message, make sure you don't speak too fast (spell your name and telephone # slowly and clearly). Many people tend to say their name and telephone # too fast which makes returning calls also very difficult.
You can mention that you have tried to make contact by e-mail and not received a response. If there is a problem with the e-mail delivery, the agent would want to know and will appreciate you letting him/her know.
Good luck with your house hunting.
I concur with the responses below. I am currently doing my own research on this very subject. I am posing as a buyer and documenting (1) method of response and (2) response time. It seems that (a) some don't respond at all and (2) MOST prefer to try to reach you by phone. However, please understand that many times your email is going to the "broker" and not necessarily the "agent" and many of these brokers are also new to the internet and have yet to perfect their systems.
You might want to try to find the property on Realtor.com. If the listing agent's name and face appears on the listing, they will are most likely somewhat tech savvy and should respond in a timely fashion. If all else fails, call the listing office and tell them you just want information. There should never be an obligation for information inquiries.
I'm constantly coaching our agents on the value of high customer service, fast response time and returning all e-mail inquiries in a timely (within 2 hour ideally by days end otherwise0 fashion.
A call to the broker of the firm might help get some response, or better yet, see who responds to your Trulia voices question from that area of the state and move forward working with them.
There's a REALTOR designation called E-Pro that you may look for in searching for a tech savvy and usually e-mail responsive agent. If you search the WI REALTOR Association Website http://(www.wra.org) you can search for a REALTOR by this designation. That may help you find a great agent.
I am sorry to hear that you are frustrated by this. Not all Realtors are orientated to using the internet. There are actually Realtors today who rarely check their email. :-(
It seems that you are responding from a third party real estate portal to the listing agent. That will be a hit or miss approach to finding a Realtor who promptly acknowledges email requests.
I suggest that you google for Realtors in your area. The ones who come up at the top of the list with websites are going to be the ones who are interested in servicing customers via internet contact points. Once you find Realtors in your area that meet this criteria, you can email your requests about any property in that area. Identify a few net savvy Realtors, correspond w/ them, and eventually you will build a relationship, finding yourself your best Buyers Agent to represent you.