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

Ten years ago, a search for 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 would spend a day flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend weeks touring each property until you found the correct one. Finding market data to help you assess the asking price would take more time and much more driving, and you still may not be able to find all of 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 likely get you thousands of results. If you spot a house of interest on a real estate web site, it is possible to typically view photos online and perhaps even take 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 current owner paid for the house, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the web are convenient and helpful, with them properly can be quite 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 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many resources online so how exactly 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 real estate works offline makes it better to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is typically bought and sold either by way of 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 refer to the same professional.) That is due to their property knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive usage of a database of active properties on the market. Access to 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 often referred to as a mls (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member realtors can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents 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 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 however the agents adding the listings to the database aren’t necessary to offer any specific type of compensation to another members. Compensation is negotiated beyond your CIE.

In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are usually maintained by REALTOR associations. Having less a managed centralized database could make these properties more difficult to find. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or searching for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A more efficient solution 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, so when we mentioned, only directly available to realtors members of an MLS or CIE. About a decade ago, this specific property information started to trickle out to the web. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that the majority of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, & most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed in it. Another reason is that there are numerous non-real estate agent Sites that also offer real estate 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 web definitely makes the information more accessible but additionally more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of property information on the web, 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 really a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are usually disseminated for display on many different Web sites. chester houses for sale For instance, many visit the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Internet site, http://www.realtor.com, and to the local property agent’s Web site. In addition, the listing may be displayed online 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 compared to the old print advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents may also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep carefully the seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When an agent provides most of these services it is known as being truly a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements will be the most common type of listing arrangement, they are not the only real option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the true 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 will have to property listings along with other real estate information. Furthermore, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for real estate. For example, 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 property in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. Later on, 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 consider 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 even 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 an agent can personalize their profile, start a blog, post photos and videos and also create a connect to their web site free of charge. Once unique content is added to their profile page the various search engines notice!

Some have argued that the Internet makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the long term. It could 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 worldwide business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase a lot of people make within their life (or, for most investors, the biggest multiple purchases over a lifetime) and they want specialist help. Are you aware that MLS, it remains the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold information available and continues make it possible for efficient marketing of properties. So, what’s the function of all online real estate information?

Written By SonaClyburn

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