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

Ten years ago, a seek out real estate would have started in the office of an area real estate agent or by simply driving around town. At the agent’s office, you’ll spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the neighborhood Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you’ll spend many weeks touring each property and soon you found the correct one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the price tag would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all the information you needed to get really comfortable with a good market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword explore Google by location will probably get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. After that you can check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to obtain 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 even have a look at what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, using them properly could be a challenge because of the volume of information and the issue in verifying its accuracy. During writing, a search of “Denver property” returned 2,670,000 Internet sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively utilize them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Contrary to popular belief, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it simpler to understand online property information and strategies.

The Business of PROPERTY

Real estate is normally bought and sold either through a licensed agent or directly by the dog owner. The vast majority is purchased and sold through real estate agents. (We use “agent” and “broker” to refer 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. Usage of this database of property listings provided probably the most efficient way to seek out 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 mls (MLS). Typically, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member realtors to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a house.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the general public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the general public over the Internet in many 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 similar to an MLS however the agents adding the listings to the database are not required to offer any specific kind of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated beyond your CIE.

Normally, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot 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 find. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A far more efficient solution to locate for-sale-by-owner properties would be to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not similar. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who’s 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 obtainable in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly open to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information began to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is currently a flood!

One reason is that the majority of the 1 million roughly REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Internet sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are lots of non-real estate agent Web 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 websites. The flood of property information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but additionally more confusing and at the mercy of misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of property information on the Internet, most properties are still sold directly through realtors listing properties in the local MLS or CIE. estate agents chester 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 a variety of Web sites. For instance, many visit the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Internet site, http://www.realtor.com, and to the local real estate agent’s Web site. Furthermore, the listing may be displayed on the net site of an area newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another form of marketing offered by today’s real estate 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 of 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 option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the true estate business have caused many agents to improve the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the access immediately most consumers will have to property listings and other real estate information. Furthermore, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for property. For instance, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send listings to consumers that match their house 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. Down the road, some real estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the web, when people hire a real estate agent today they should look at the particular services provided 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 friends and family. The Internet now provides methods to directly find qualified agents or to research the biography of an agent referred to you offline. One such site, AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this site a realtor 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 search engines notice!

Some have argued that the web makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false over time. It could change the role of the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has risen significantly recently. No wonder, the Internet has made local real estate a worldwide business. Besides, Internet or not, the easy fact remains that the purchase of real property may be the largest single purchase a lot of people make in their life (or, for many investors, the biggest multiple purchases over an eternity) 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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