Smart Money on Online Real Estate

This refrain sounds awfully familiar. From Smart Money, discussing errors that appear in online real estate listing data …

These discrepancies often appear on the listings that are posted on the Multiple Listing Service, an online database that listing agents are expected to keep current, he says. Separately, around 21% of the data realtors individually submit for posting on real estate web sites is not updated when changes are made to the price or when the property is sold, according to a report released last month by Trulia.

Of course, online misinformation is hardly unique to real estate listings. But because many of the online services are relatively new, and people buy houses so infrequently, home buyers may be less attuned to misinformation than, say, online daters. In general, it requires much more skepticism and diligence by buyers, experts say.

One bit of irony here … the report from Trulia indicating the errors in the data. It seems from here that it’s a very subtle way of saying, “Hey, our data may not be accurate but it’s the agents’ fault, not ours.” Which seems like a little bit of a copout, kinda like when one of my kids come up with explanations for who left the 17 glasses out on the counter instead of putting them in the dishwasher.

Real estate isn’t a Best Buy, where there’s a fairly standard inventory of products. Homes, even in tract communities, are unique and as such take a little more work to list all of the details correctly. Add the variable of thousands of agents entering the data instead of one master source, and errors are going to be inevitable.

The further you drift from the source, the more likely errors will be. So, by the time you get to a third-party aggregator (note: third party), it shouldn’t be surprising if the data isn’t correct. It’s inevitable.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at