Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by simply driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local MLS (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still is probably not able to find all of the information you had a need to get really comfortable with a good market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword explore Google by location will probably get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a genuine estate web site, it is possible to typically view photos online and perhaps even have a virtual tour. After that you can check other Web sites, including the local county assessor, to obtain an idea of the property’s value, see what the existing owner paid for the property, check the true estate taxes, get census data, school information, and also have a look at what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your home!

While the resources on the web are convenient and helpful, with them properly could be a challenge because of the volume of information and the issue in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 Sites. Even a neighborhood specific seek out real estate can easily return thousands of Sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Contrary to popular belief, understanding how the business of property works offline makes it better to understand online property information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is normally bought and sold either by way of a licensed agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to make reference to the same professional.) That is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at the very least historically, their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Usage of this database of property listings provided probably the most efficient way to seek out properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). Normally, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary reason for an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the general public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the general public over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings may also be displayed online but aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS but the agents adding the listings to the database are not necessary to offer any specific kind of compensation to another members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

Normally, for-sale-by-owner properties can’t be directly put into an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more difficult to find. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A far more efficient solution to locate for-sale-by-owner properties would be to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is really a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS must adhere to a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only available in hard copy, so when we mentioned, only directly available to realtors members of an MLS or CIE. About a decade ago, this specific property information began to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, & most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed in it. Another reason is that there are plenty of non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real estate information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market websites. The flood of property information to the Internet definitely makes the info more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of property information on the Internet, most properties are still sold directly through realtors listing properties in the local MLS or CIE. However, those property listings do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the web is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are usually disseminated for display on a variety of Web sites. For instance, many visit the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Site, http://www.realtor.com, and to the local real estate agent’s Web site. Furthermore, the listing could be displayed on the internet site of an area newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another type of marketing offered by today’s agent, but it has a much broader reach than the old print advertising.

In addition to Online marketing, listing agents may also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep carefully the seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When an agent provides all these services it is known as being truly a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common type of listing arrangement, they are not the only real option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the true estate business have caused many agents to improve the way they conduct business. In large part, this is due to the access immediately most consumers now have to property listings and other real estate information. Furthermore, the Internet along with other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for property. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send listings to consumers that match their house criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they offer and change their fees accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the property in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. In the future, some real estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the Internet, when people hire a real estate agent today they should look at the particular services offered by the agent and the depth of these experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. It is no longer just about usage of property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from family and friends. The Internet now provides methods to directly find qualified agents or even to research the biography of a realtor referred to you offline. One such site, AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. estate agents chester On this site an agent can personalize their profile, start a blog, post photos and videos and even create a link to their web site for free. Once unique content is put into their profile page the search engines notice!

Some have argued that the web makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the long term. It may change the role of the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever before. In fact, the quantity of real estate agents has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the web has made local real estate a global business. Besides, Internet or not, the easy fact remains that the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase most people make in their life (or, for most investors, the largest multiple purchases over an eternity) and they want specialist help. Are you aware that MLS, it remains probably the most reliable source of property listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what’s the function of all online real estate information?


Leave a Reply