Real Estate Agents and the Internet - How to choose and Sell Real Estate Today
Then and after this
Ten years ago, a search for real estate would've started in the office of the local real estate agent or by only driving around town. With the agent's office, you'll spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of curiosity, you would spend many weeks touring each property before you found the right one. Finding market data for you to assess the asking price would more and more difficult and a lot more driving, but you just might not be able to find all the information you needed to get really comfortable with a reasonable market value.
Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by location may get you thousands of results. In the event you spot a property of curiosity on a real estate internet site, you can typically view photos on the web and maybe even take a virtual tour. Then you're able to check other Websites, such as the local county assessor, to obtain an idea of the property's value, see what are the current owner taken care of the property, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without having to leave your house!
While the resources on the net are convenient and helpful, with these properly can be a challenge due to volume of information and also the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. Before writing, a search of "Denver real estate" returned 2,670,000 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return a large number of Web sites. With so many resources online what makes an investor effectively use them without getting over-involved or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of property works offline makes it much simpler to understand online real estate information and strategies.
The Business of Real Estate
Real estate is typically bought and sold either through an authorized real estate agent or directly with the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use "agent" and "broker" to consult the same professional.) It's because their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive use of a database of active virginia homes. Access to this database of property listings provided the best way to search for properties.
The MLS (and CIE)
The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is usually referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member real estate professionals can be added to an MLS. The principal purpose of an MLS is usually to enable the member realtors to make offers of compensation to other member agents should they find a buyer for a property.
This purposes didn't include enabling the direct publishing in the MLS information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS details are directly accessible to people over the Internet in many different forms.
Commercial property listings can also be displayed online but aggregated commercial property info is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is comparable to an MLS though the agents adding the listings towards the database are not required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated beyond your CIE.
In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties is not directly added to an MLS and CIE, which can be typically maintained by REALTOR associations. Deficiency of a managed centralized database can make these properties tougher to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or searching for ads in the local newspaper's real-estate listings. A more efficient approach to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is always to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site within the geographic area.
Exactly what is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are widely-used interchangeably; however, they are not precisely the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also a person in the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.
MLS and CIE property listing information was historically purely available in hard copy, so that as we mentioned, only directly accessible to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About a decade ago, this valuable property information did start to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle has become a flood!
One reason is that most of the 2million or so REALTORS have Internet sites, and most of those Sites have varying levels of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are many non-real estate agent Internet sites that also offer property information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market weblogs. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely makes all the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.
Despite the flood of real estate property information on the Internet, most properties are nevertheless sold directly through real estate agents listing properties from our MLS or CIE. However, those property listings tend not to stay local anymore. By its nature, the Internet is a global marketplace and native MLS and CIE listings are normally disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For instance, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com, and also to the local real estate agent's Site. In addition, the listing could possibly be displayed on the Web site of a local newspaper. Essentially, the Internet is just another way of marketing offered by today's real estate professional, but it has a much broader reach as opposed to old print advertising.
As well as Internet marketing, listing agents may also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of interested buyers and will be offering, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When a realtor provides all of these services it is referred to as being a complete listing arrangement. While complete listing arrangements are the most common type of listing arrangement, they're not the only option anymore.
Alterations in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to switch the way they do business. Mainly, this is due to the instant access most consumers are in possession of to property listings and also other real estate information. Additionally, the Internet and other technologies have automated a lot of the marketing and initial searching process for real estate. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers may use automated programs for you listings to consumers that match their property criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they offer and change their fees accordingly. A representative may offer to advertise the exact property in the MLS only provide limited additional services. In the future, some real estate agents may offer services in more of the ala carte fashion.
Because of the volume of real estate info on the Internet, when people employ a real estate agent today they ought to look at the particular services available from the agent along with the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. Go for longer just about usage of property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from friends and family. The Internet now provides ways to directly find qualified agents in order to research the biography associated with an agent referred to you offline. One such site, AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook are the real deal estate agents. On this site a real estate agent can personalize their profile, begin a blog, post pics and vids and even create a connect to their web site totally free. Once unique content is included with their profile page the various search engines notice!
Some have argued the Internet makes REALTORS along with the MLS less relevant. We presume this will be false in the long run. It may change the role with the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever before. In fact, the number of realtors has risen significantly recently. No wonder, the Internet has created local real estate a worldwide business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that this purchase of real property may be the largest single purchase most people make in their life (or, for most investors, the largest multiple purchases over a lifetime) and they want expert help. When it comes to MLS, it continues to be the most reliable source of property listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate property information?
Online real estate property information is a great research tool for consumers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used properly, buyers can help to conserve time by quickly researching properties and, ultimately, make better investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently research the market and make informed decisions about hiring an agent and marketing their properties online. The next task is to know where to go online for some of the best resources.
From the sections that follow, we offer strategies and techniques to use the Internet to locate properties for sale and research information relevant to your decision to purchase the property. There are many real estate Web sites from which to choose and although do not mean to endorse any particular Web site, we have found the ones listed here to be good resources in many instances or to be so well received that they need mention. One method to test a Web site's accuracy is usually to search for information about home you already own.
Finding Property for Sale
Despite the acquireable access to real estate listings, many believe MLS databases carry on and offer the most complete and accurate supply of real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute happy to other Web sites (primarily run by real estate agents). An excellent starting place for MLS originated submissions are the national NAR Web site, realtor.com, also is the most popular web site for searching property listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs offer an agreement with realtor.com to show much of their active listing inventory.
Some local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible Site. However, to get complete information you will most likely still need to look for a qualified local REALTOR. Many local realtors will also provide their customers (via email) new listings which are input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This is often helpful to a busy buyer.
In addition there are many Web sites that display both realtor listed and for-sale-by-owner properties. Some of the more popular Web sites include zillow.com and trulia.com. These websites offer other services too. By way of example, zillow.com is best noted for its instantaneous property valuation function and trulia.com for providing historical information. Another supply of properties for sale is the state, regional, and native Web sites associated with brokerage companies; for instance, remax.com or prudential.com. Search engines like yahoo.com and classified advertising sites like craigslist.com furthermore have a large number of active real estate property listings.
One key distinction between these sites is how much information you can access anonymously. For example, at trulia.com it is possible to shop anonymously up to a point however you will need to click through to the agent's Web site to find out more. Many new real estate property search engines allow you to sift through listings without having to submit a form. The best strategy is to browse many of the sites listed above to discover geographic areas or price ranges that are interesting. When investing in serious about a property, then which is the time to find a qualified REALTOR that you pick to conduct a complete search in the local MLS.
In addition, it never hurts to look the old-fashioned way by driving through the neighborhoods that get your interest. There is no substitute for physically, not virtually, walking the block when you find yourself making a serious financial commitment. In this sense, real-estate is still a very someone's place of business and standing in front from the property can lead to a significantly different decision than viewing a Web page printout.
As we mentioned, probably the most popular real estate tools is zillow.com's instant property valuation. Just key in an address and in so you get a property value. It also charts the price ups and downs, and shows the very last date sold (including price) as well as the property taxes. There are additional sites that provide similar tools like housevalues.com and homegain.com. Unfortunately, many people use these estimated values alone to warrant sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, these are only rough estimates with different formula that incorporates a nearby county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly more than a short period of time and do not apparently always track actual market changes, that are normally more gradual. Additionally, these estimates do not automatically take into account property remodels or renovations or any other property specific or local changes. This isn't to say these sites usually are not useful. In fact, they may be great starting points which enable it to provide a good ball-park value oftentimes.
When it comes to getting a more accurate value for a particular property, there are many strategies that are more trustworthy. One is to go directly to your county's Web site. More often than not the county assessor's section of the Web site provides sales and tax information for all those properties in the county. If you wish to research a particular property or compare sales prices of comparable properties, a nearby assessor's sites are really helpful. Whenever you visit a county's Web site you will get information straight from the source. Most counties today publish property information about their Web sites. Many times you may cannot only see the price an earlier owner paid, though the assessed value, property taxes, and maps. Some county assessors are adding a market and property valuation tools too.
Because of the importance of valuation to investing, we are also going to remind you of the two most important (non-Internet) valuation methods: real estate professionals and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is surely an accurate and efficient way to get value information for a property. While one of the primary purposes of the MLS is usually to market the active property listings of the company's members, the system also collects sales information for all those listings. REALTOR members can pull this sales information and convey comparable market analyses (also known as CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of a particular property's value for your market in a particular area.
Finally, one of the most accurate way to value a property is by having a certified appraiser provide an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review the two sold information within the MLS system along with county information and after that analyze the information to make a valuation for the property based on one or more approved ways of valuation. These methods of valuation may include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for differences relating to the properties, determine the cost to replace the property, or, with the income producing property, determine a price based on the income produced by the property.
There are lots of ways the Internet will help you get the scoop on a particular neighborhood. For instance, census data are available at census.gov. You can also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like outside.in or review local blogs. A blog is a Web site where people discuss topics by posting and responding to messages. Start by taking a look at placeblogger.com and kcnn.org/citymediasites.com for any directory of blogs. Trulia.com has a "Heat Map" that shows how cold or hot each neighborhood will depend on prices, sales, or popularity among the sites users.
In relation to selling residential property or rental properties that focus on families, the quality of the spot school district constitutes a huge difference. There are many Sites devoted to school information. Look at greatschools.net or schoolmatters.com. Most local school districts also have their own Web site. These websites contain a variety of information regarding the public schools and also the school district, including its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.
Finding the Right Real Estate Agent
A recent accessory for the Internet boom in tangible estate information is Sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and local knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially networking with blogs. Search to find an agent which has a particular expertise, geographic area of specialization, or an agent offering specific services. The site AgentWorld.com lets users quickly find an agent with the appropriate expertise using keyword searches and and also simple agent profiles. AgentWorld.com also enables agents to create personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers get the best agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles will include a direct link to the agent's site where you will likely obtain the local MLS listings.
Maps and also other Tools
The Internet makes mapping and locating properties much simpler. To get an aerial view or satellite picture of a property or neighborhood, visit maps.live.com or maps.google.com or visit walkscore.com to determine how walk-able a particular rentals are. These sites can give you a perception of the neighborhood characteristics and also the types of entertainment, restaurants, along with other facilities that are within walking distance of the property. Maps.Live.com gives a view at an angle so you can see the sides of homes and Maps.Google even offers you a 360 degree street-level view for sure neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these satellite map Websites, you really should if only for amusement.
Conclusion on Internet Strategies
The web is a very effective research and marketing device for real estate investors however it is not a replacement for a knowledgeable experienced real estate professional. The Internet can save you time and cash by enabling simple and fast property research and marketing options. Sites like AgentWorld.com also help you efficiently find a REALTOR who fits your selling or buying needs.
Always remember, in terms of Internet strategies for real-estate: More knowledge is way better. You need to use the Internet to develop your knowledge base on the target property in order to find a real estate agent with expertise you'll need. However, the big caution here's that the Internet must not replace human judgment and perspective, expert advice or physical due diligence-keys to successful investing.