Internet searches for real estate information are on the rise, an indication that Americans appear to be dipping a toe back in the housing markets, according to Experian Marketing Services. Searches for rental properties increased 171%, while searches for real estate for sale were up 32% in Q110 compared to Q109. The rental terms that experienced the greatest increase were “cheap homes for rent” (128%), “house for rent by owner” (94%) and “home for rent by owner” (84%). Prospective buyers appear to be looking for deals in Florida and Michigan, two states hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. The for sale terms that experienced the greatest increases were “homes for sale in Florida,” up 73%, and “homes for sale in Michigan,” up 74%. In addition, online mortgage searches increased 43%. At the beginning of the year, search engine giant Google (GOOG) made its move into the online mortgage origination space with a new advertising feature for mortgages. Partnering with a number of mortgage technology companies, including Mortech, Insight Lending Solutions and Leads360, Google’s AdWords Comparison Ads allows prospective borrowers to compare rates and terms for mortgages. Google started with mortgage data and plans to expand AdWords to other product types in the future. “Search volume of terms related to an economic indicator can help us predict future market trends and movement,” said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research, at Experian’s Hitwise subsidiary. “The uptick in 'home for sale' searches indicates a refreshed interest on the part of consumers to enter, or move within, the real estate market.” In addition to the increase in real estate searching, queries for credit cards increased 70% and loan searches were up 11%, Experian said. As HousingWire previously reported, US borrowers spend more time researching automotive purchases and travel options than mortgages, based on a survey by online mortgage marketplace Zillow. That survey — conducted on more than 2,700 adults by market research firm Harris Interactive — found that 31% of Americans spend less than two hours researching their home loan. Two hours represents the average amount of time spent researching a vacation or computer purchase, or half the amount of time spent researching a new car, Zillow said. Write to Austin Kilgore. The author held no relevant investments.