Andrew Wetzel's Musings

May 27, 2017

REALTORS are still the best way to access new and available listings.

Filed under: Uncategorized — awetzel @ 2:54 PM

Statistics continue to tell us that over 90% of prospective home buyers search the Internet for listings and many will continue to do so even after hiring an agent to represent their interests.  “Shopping online” is fun and convenient but doing so for Real Estate has its limitations (there is no “Shopping Cart” and, for the most part, this is NOT a sale to complete “sight unseen”).  The reported number remains steady year after year and that is good news for agents as it results in our getting Internet traffic, emails, texts and phone calls seeking additional information beyond what the third-party portals display (HINT:  they do NOT show you everything the multiple listing service will show you).  There are countless training materials designed and sold to help us capitalize on this potential stream of business.  Some are valuable while many are a waste of time, too often reinforcing the stereotypes that make some consumers want to avoid us in the first place.

Here is the bad news:  the Internet is NOT the “complete” answer that prospective buyers would like it to be.  Selling Real Estate is not their goal:  they are profit centers seeking to grab YOUR attention so that they can $ell your contact information to agents willing to pay for “leads”.  Not that there is anything wrong with that!  For diligent buyers who are task-oriented and not under time pressure, the Internet is an invaluable resource that allows them to research locations/ areas/ school districts and become comfortable with different types of housing at their own pace.  Frankly, these sites can offer information that REALTORS are NOT allowed to discuss due to Fair Housing regulations (we can be the “source of the source”).  That being said, there is soooooo much information to sift through and much of it is, at the very least, confusing and, at worst, just plain wrong (I can tell you stories about one “popular” site that had to abandon its link to schools because there were so many complaints about incorrect information).

The road to buying a home still usually leads to a REALTOR and that is where the shortcomings of the Internet come into play.  Real Estate is a “people business” and the Internet is a “data mining business”, each having symbiotic but different objectives.  Over time the line has gotten blurred and the portals have done a better job than in the past but there is still a disconnect.

I am usually able to provide prospective buyers with more property choices that are actually available for consideration and at an earlier time in their marketing than what the average Internet “shopper” can find (do NOT believe that the MLS and Internet are synchronized:  there are often delays in presenting new listings for a variety of reasons).  In addition, while much improved, the Internet still shows many, many “under contract”, “settled” and “expired”/ “withdrawn” listings, all of which are technically NOT AVAILABLE and will waste your time possibly delaying you from seeing properties that best match your needs and wants.

This is not to say that buyers should not use the Internet but they should recognize its limitations while exploiting its benefits.  Timing and access to information are critical and, for all this talk about the Internet, it is still more “two-dimensional” than a well trained Real Estate professional who has his/ her client’s best interests in mind.  That being said, I am more concerned with buyers who use the Internet as a tool to avoid REALTORS:  whatever their motivation (and I accept that some had or heard about a horrible experience!), they could be hurting their own house search.

There are a number of ways to research and identify possible houses and ALL have positives and negatives but only one, using a REALTOR, really makes the most sense.

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