Wading Through the Online Real Estate Minefield

avatarthumbnail.jpgOne of my clients and I are looking for condominiums in a certain complex in Northeast Phoenix – Parkside. I am using the MLS. She’s using the Internet. Our results have been decidedly different. Care to hazard a guess which one of us has the correct information?

If you’re going to be searching online for homes and are convinced you can do it without the assistance of a real estate agent with access to the MLS, here are a few things you ought to know:

1)  Sold listings never die, they don’t even fade away. Our listings often are being fed to locations we’ve never thought of before. As such, not all agents know all the places they need to go to update their listing information when a home sells. Just because you’re seeing a listing active on a Zillow, Trulia or any other site where the agent and brokerage aren’t necessarily directly inputting the listing doesn’t mean the property’s available.

My client sent me two yesterday – one sold in June, the other sold in July.

2) While looking at dead listings, you’re missing current ones.The search here on this site is pretty good and pretty accurate. Does that mean that all of the listings are here, though? Not necessarily. Brokerages can “opt out” of having their property listings advertised on the Internet, which means they don’t appear on the IDX feed here. Does it make sense for them to do so? Absolutely not, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Not all listings are sent to the large aggregation sites, something not everyone seems to know when they visit the Zillows or Trulias of the world.

Also, the way in which you search can limit what you see. It’s extremely helpful when you know exactly what you want, except for when you’re searching. Generally speaking, the more specific you are with your search the more listings you’ll exclude – including those that should be included but aren’t because the listing agent didn’t click this field or that when they should have.

3) The devil is in the details. One of the changes I hope to see on the platform I have from Diverse Solutions is a more visible message when a home is listed as “Active With Contingencies” since these properties only are technically active. (There are reasons the change hasn’t happened which I understand but still hope to overcome.)

What they can’t do anything about are homes that are listed as Active but aren’t, and the only place to see that is the private REALTOR remarks. Examples are bank owned homes where the bank has verbally accepted an offer but signed paperwork hasn’t been completed, or short sales where the parties have signed the one form that allows the home to remain active after a listing is submitted.

This only addresses the dozens of listings where agents are kind enough to give some sort of warning, as opposed to the hundreds of listings where you’re on your own – these are the short sales you see active for 100 days only to learn they’re nowhere close to active.

Bottom line – do you absolutely have to have an agent when searching for Phoenix real estate? Probably no more so than I had to take my car to the dealership yesterday to replace the valve the helps burn off excess fuel. But I’ll tell ya, the odds for disaster are lower using the services of a professional – and in my case, I don’t cost you anything out of pocket.

Wish that had been the case at the dealership.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

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 allphoenixrealestate.com.


  • Portland Real Estate 8 years ago

    More great notes! This is a constant struggle that I have with people. I dont control the listings, and I dont control innaccuracies from the listing agent. There are also listing agents that “play” the system by marking it as one thing, and then changing it a few hours later to a higher price. That causes the system to email this property out to tons of people that would not normally see it (because it is not what they are looking for). Why? Its like spam, but in the MLS. Please people, lets all do our part to keep the MLS clean and accurrate whenever possible.


  • real estate 8 years ago

    Very good article. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for the share.

  • Gainesville Realtors 8 years ago

    I don’t even think Zillow and Trulia syncs with mls data – you have to add and remove your own listings manually. At least here in FL.

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