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

Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have were only available in the office of an area real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend a day flipping through pages of active property listings from the neighborhood MLS (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you’ll spend weeks touring each property and soon you found the right one. Finding market data to help you assess the price tag would take more time and much more driving, and you still is probably not able to find each of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start the Internet. An instant keyword search on Google by location will probably get you a large number of results. If you spot a house of interest on a real estate web site, it is possible to typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. After that you can check other Web sites, including the local county assessor, to get a concept of the property’s value, see what the existing owner paid for the house, 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 house!

While the resources on the web are convenient and helpful, using them properly can 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 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can simply return thousands of Sites. With so many resources online so how exactly does an investor effectively utilize them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of property works offline makes it simpler to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of PROPERTY

Real estate is typically bought and sold either by way of a licensed agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is purchased and sold through real estate agents. (We use “agent” and “broker” to make reference to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive usage of a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is often referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member realtors can be put into an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS would be to enable the member realtors to create 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. houses for sale chester Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in lots of different forms.

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

Usually, 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 locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties would be to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

Exactly 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 an associate of 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 only available in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly available to realtors members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the web. This trickle is currently a flood!

One reason is that the majority of the 1 million roughly REALTORS have Web sites, & most of those Sites have varying amounts of the neighborhood MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are lots of 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 information sites. The flood of real estate information to the web definitely makes the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of real estate information on the web, most properties remain 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 really a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are usually disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For instance, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com, also to the local property agent’s Web site. In addition, the listing may be displayed online site of an area newspaper. In essence, the web is just another form of marketing offered by today’s agent, but it has a much broader reach than the old print advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents also may 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 an agent provides all these services it is known as being a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements will be the most common type of listing arrangement, they’re not the only real option anymore.

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

Because of the level of real estate information on the Internet, when people hire a real estate agent today they should consider the particular services offered by the agent and the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. It really 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. On this site an agent can personalize their profile, start a blog, post photos and videos and even create a connect to their web site for free. Once unique content is put into their profile page the various search engines notice!

Some have argued that the Internet makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this is 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. In fact, the amount of realtors has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has made local real estate a worldwide business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase a lot of people make within their life (or, for most investors, the largest multiple purchases over a lifetime) and they want expert help. As for the MLS, it remains probably the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold information available and continues make it possible for efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate information?

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