Where Online Real Estate Has Gone Wrong

avatarthumbnail.jpgWhen I started my real estate career back in 2004, I quickly became known as the “internet” guy. The majority of my business came from my website (which soon grew to become a half-dozen different websites) and if there was a new trend to be followed (read: blogging, circa 2006) I jumped in with both feet.

Why? Because the so-called traditional methods of generating business – cold calling, door knocking and such – were to my mind abominable. I’m the epitome of what Brian Buffini describes when he talks about people driving into their garage to enter their own private fiefdom. If I don’t recognize your phone number I’m not going to answer and if I’m not expecting someone to come to the door, I’m not going to open it.

Real estate online has progressed dramatically since the days of the static agent website (if you want to see my own personal dinosaur, click here) and yet the business of real estate hasn’t evolved nearly as quickly, much to the dismay of those constantly calling for the start of the online revolution.

About four-fifths of all buyers start their real estate search online and yet when it comes to making the purchase, the majority still ask friends and family for the names of agents they’ve used in the past and come to trust. The reason should be obvious – for all of the information available, the transaction itself still is best handled by a professional who has helped buyers and sellers purchase more property in a month or two than most people ever do in their lifetimes.

Many real estate agents have thrown in the towel when it comes to information and now are focusing on their roles as transactional specialists. Okayfine. The truth of the matter is there now is more information available than most buyers need, and much of that data often is in conflict with other information available through other sources.

Call it online real estate’s theory of relativity – there is no one truth, as the truth becomes shaded depended on where you happen to visit.

On Agent Genius this week, the question was raised whether real estate should move further into the Web 2.0 world and allow the public in general to comment on individual properties in the MLS to create a community-level information base. Personally, I can’t think of much that could be more damaging to the concept of truth than allowing anyone with an axe to grind to jump into a conversation and try to shape opinion.

Take a look at the comments on the online version of your local newspaper and you’ll see what I mean. Logical, polite discourse is virtually non-existent. Instead, it’s a contest to see who can shout the loudest and be the most insulting to anyone who would dare argue against a given position. Which reminds me of some real estate blogs I know, actually.

Buyers want opinion to be sure, but my experience is they want opinions with some basis in fact … not the usual Phoenix-area silliness that says the world ends at Central Avenue.

And until the Internet proves capable of providing that basis of truth in order to ensure the credibility and accuracy of the mountains of data available, your best bet to help you navigate the often turbulent waters remains a real estate professional.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

About Jonathan

Jonathan Dalton is a 30-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.

  • I was talking with someone last week who said something close to this:

    “I didn’t realize how many crazy people there are out there until I started a blog!”

    Comments can get a little out of control, so keeping them attached to a “real, live person” who might even have a factual or at least professional opinion is a good idea.

  • “The truth of the matter is there now is more information available than most buyers need, and much of that data often is in conflict with other information available through other sources.”

    So true.

  • I think if it happens that there is comments allowed, It better be on the listing office blog only. I think past that a lot of liability will be created.

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