The internet is a double edged sword for the average home buyer. For the first time in history the public has access to an amazing number of homes for sale. Pictures, comparable sales, neighborhood market trends, walk scores, school scores, demographics, and more, are available instantly and easily.
But finding the right home, at the right price, before it is already sold to someone else? That is much harder.
The problem with searching for homes on the internet is that the information is not completely accurate. The reasons for the inaccuracies are less important than how you, the consumer, can use this tool to your advantage.
Trulia and Zillow are the largest syndicators of multiple listing (MLS) information, but there are dozens upon dozens more. Estately, Homes.com, Housegrabber or Homefinder are all examples of listing syndicators. These companies have agreements with most of the local MLS’s and they bundle that information into a huge, national, database.
The problem is they are all somewhat inaccurate. Properties shown as available are often under contract or completely sold. Zillow, in particular, will display properties that sold long ago as active and available. Again, the reasons for these inaccuracies are complicated and all companies are working to bring better data to the consumer.
The smart consumer understands this fact and does not get overly excited by anything they see on these websites. They use the outstanding mobile apps put out by each of these companies to research neighborhoods and to get a feel for overall values. They do NOT depend on these sites when they are truly ready to buy.
Realtor.com and Redfin
These are two public websites that are a more accurate reflection of the Multiple List. Redfin is quite popular with home shoppers in Glendale and it is where most people go to find Open House listings.
It is interesting to note, however, that although Redfin has agents who could represent buyers, I rarely see offers from Redfin agents. This is also true among my colleagues.
This would suggest that, again, these sites are fantastic for research, but maybe not as successful in helping you find THE house.
Individual Realtor Websites
Most Realtors will display the listing information directly from their Multiple Listing System on their individual websites.
The difference comes with how the Realtor chooses to organize this information. For example, I have one click access to all the neighborhoods in town- and the home available for sale in those neighborhoods.
Some Realtors will unveil their latest listings on their website before going “public”. Check out as many individual Realtor websites as possible.
Attend Open Houses
If you are a dedicated deal hunter, I would attend as many public open homes as possible.
Ask every Realtor you meet about the homes they know about or are about to put on the market. You might be surprised what they will tell you.
Doorknock or Send Letters
Do you have a specific home or neighborhood in mind?
Spend a few days knocking on every dor in that area and ask if they might be willing to sell. Or, create a letter describing what you want, what you are wiling to pay and why you would be a great buyer- and send or deliver to homes that match your criteria.
Does That Sound Like A Lot of WORK?
It is. in fact- it is the work of a full time Realtor.
Most people do not have the time, energy or skills to do everything I just suggested. A full time professional spends years creating the relationships that result in the sharing of “inside news” that leads to great deals.
The Internet is Amazing
Today’s buyers feel that they are best served by being a “free agent”. They feel everything they need to know is on the internet and “salespeople” do not have their best interests at heart, right?
I completely understand your point of view- but not all “salespeople” are made equal.
But, you have to ask yourself- if the information is available to everyone, where is the competitive advantage for you?