I just read a blog post by an agent in NYC that could be written by any experienced agent or broker in the US. The question posed as a problem is, "Do you know the market, if you know what the sale price of a property was?" She writes a personal explanation of her experience.
Experienced agents and brokers across the country face this topic every day. We all deal with it. It does seem that there is a trend by smart consumers to utilize an experienced professional. Experienced agents and brokers can explain, verify, and identify properties that truly meet a consumers interest much faster and with more validity than knowing the price of a nearby property that has sold.
It may be that all the real estate web sites are becoming as much of a stumbling block to consumers as they are an aid.