Where Major Real Estate Listing Websites Fail | Sun Valley Real Estate

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As buyers wade back into the market, there’s plenty of

information to be found online. And that may be more trouble than it’s

worth.

arlier this year, a client asked

Troy Deierling, a realtor in Sedona, Ariz., to set up appointments for

three homes he’d seen online. Those viewings never happened: In spite of

their supposedly current listings, Deierling discovered the properties

had already sold. One had been off the market for three months.

As home buyers cautiously re-enter the market, they’re arming

themselves with information found online

far more than existed

pre-housing crash. A record nine out of 10 house-hunters ed online

last year, according to the National Association of Realtors; around 15

million people now visit 6-year-old listings site Trulia.com each

month. But with this great migration online has come a new set of

obstacles, including errors, out-of-date information, and properties

that are listed on the web but aren’t actually for sale

all of which

can add up to a handicap for buyers. “You’re probably going to get

exposed to inaccurate information,” says H. Pike Oliver, executive

director for industry outreach at Cornell University’s Program in Real

Estate. “There’s no real assurance.”

The most common problems are simply errors — listings that advertise

gas heating when in fact the house runs on electric heat or a price cut

that hasn’t been updated online. But in some cases, “mistakes” may be

intentionally misleading, such as touting a partly-finished basement as

fully redone, or describing a kitchen as “eat-in” but only “if you were

standing [up] with your plate,” says New Jersey real estate broker Paul

Howard. These discrepancies often appear on the listings that are posted

on the Multiple Listing Service, an online database that listing agents

are expected to keep current, he says. Separately, around 21% of the

data realtors individually submit for posting on real estate web sites

is not updated when changes are made to the price or when the property

is sold, according to a report released last month by Trulia.

Of course, online misinformation is hardly unique to real estate listings. But because many of the online services are relatively new, and people buy houses so infrequently, home buyers may be less attuned to misinformation than, say, online daters. In general, it requires much more skepticism and diligence by buyers, experts say. For example, some real estate agents keep listings on their personal web sites long after they’ve sold; when home buyers contact the agent inquiring about the property, they’re instead pitched new properties that might not meet their criteria, says Leonard Baron, principal of real estate consulting firm LPB Services and a lecturer at San Diego State University. Such lagging information is more common with smaller firms’ web sites and could be a function of real estate agents simply forgetting to update those listings, says a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. Either way, for buyers, it’s a waste of time.

Online listings also seem to level the playing field when it comes time to make an offer, by including sales history and the number of days on the market information most buyers could previously get only from an agent. But “there are a lot of games that are played with ‘days on the market’,” says Mark Weiss, director of business development at Trulia.com. Properties that are listed for months can get removed from listing sites only to reappear as a new property for sale a few weeks later. That could be because a new listing agent has taken it over, says Baron; in some cases, a realtor can make a listing look new by taking the house off the market for a few weeks.

Popular real estate listing web sites say they try to update information often and they’re on constant lookout for errors, but many sites rely on a feed from the MLS, which means it’s largely the responsibility of individual realtors to update their listings. On Realtor.com, listings are revised daily as properties’ status change, says the NAR spokesman. Trulia.com, which is where Deierling says his client found outdated listings, says it receives seven to eight million listings every day and it prioritizes information that arrives directly from franchises, brokers or MLS feeds. And like Trulia, Zillow says its goal is to give buyers easy access to a lot of information about nearby home values and market trends that can better inform buyer decisions.

For their faults, these web sites still offer home buyers more information than what was available even a few years ago. And that can help them make a more informed decision and eventually, an offer on a property. The point, consumer advocates say, is not to put too much faith in the information contained in a listing. The old shoe-leather tactics like talking to neighbors, getting crime reports from the local police, and asking a real estate agent to pull recent sales prices of similar homes nearby will trump most of the data in an online listing. “It’s a reasonable way to start the but not to finish it,” says Barry Zigas, director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer advocacy organization.

SOURCE: SmartMoney.com

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Aly Chiman

Aly Chiman is a Blogger & Reporter at AlyChiTech.com which covers a wide variety of topics from local news from digital world fashion and beauty . AlyChiTech covers the top notch content from the around the world covering a wide variety of topics. Aly is currently studying BS Mass Communication at University.

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