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

Ten years ago, a seek out real estate would have were only available in the office of an area real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend a day flipping through pages of active property listings from the local MLS (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you’ll spend weeks touring each property and soon you found the correct one. Finding market data to help you assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all the information you had a need to get really comfortable with a good market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. An instant keyword search on Google by location will probably get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a genuine estate web site, it is possible to typically view photos online and maybe even have a virtual tour. You can then 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 real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and also have a look at what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your home!

While the resources on the net are convenient and helpful, with them properly can be quite a challenge because of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. During writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 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? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of property 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 owner. The vast majority is purchased and sold through real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to make reference to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at the very least historically, their exclusive usage of a database of active properties on the market. Usage of this database of property listings provided probably the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). estate agents chester Usually, only properties listed by member realtors can be put into an MLS. The primary reason for an MLS is to enable the member realtors to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This purposes didn’t include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the general public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in lots of different forms.

Commercial property listings may also be 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 but the agents adding the listings to the database are not required to offer any specific kind of compensation to another members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

Normally, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly put into an MLS and CIE, which are usually maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database could make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are located by driving around or searching for ads in the neighborhood newspaper’s real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is really a licensed real estate agent who is also an associate of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS must 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 a decade ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the web. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that a lot of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are several non-real estate agent Internet 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 information sites. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but also 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. However, those property listings usually do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the web is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are usually disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For example, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Site, http://www.realtor.com, and to the local property agent’s Web site. Furthermore, the listing could be displayed on the internet site of a local newspaper. In essence, the web 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 set up a price, hold open houses, keep carefully the seller informed of interested buyers and will be offering, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When an agent provides most of these services it is known as being a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements will be the most common kind of listing arrangement, they are not the only real option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to change the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the instant access most consumers now have to property listings along with other real estate information. In addition, the Internet and other technologies have automated a lot 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 property 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. In the future, some real estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the Internet, when people hire an agent today they should consider the particular services provided by the agent and the depth of these 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 family and friends. The Internet now provides methods to directly find qualified agents or to research the biography of a realtor referred to you offline. One particular 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 also create a link to their web site for free. Once unique content is put into their profile page the various search engines notice!

Some have argued that the web makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the long run. It may change the role of the agent but can make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the amount of real estate agents has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has made local property a global business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that the purchase of real property may be the largest single purchase a lot of people make within their life (or, for many investors, the largest multiple purchases over an eternity) and they want expert help. As for the MLS, it remains the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate information?

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