So . . .
You’re thinking about buying or selling a house . . .
Where do you start with the process?
Conventional wisdom says that the path of least resistance is to work with a REALTOR – a LOCAL Real Estate Professional you know and TRUST.
But what if you don’t know any REALTORS?
OR . . . You know TOO MANY REALTORS?
Or . . . You just want to look around on your own before engaging a professional?
As with all things these days, my bet is that most folks then turn to the internet.
So . . . You google a few properties and land on myriad Real Estate Firm/Agent websites . . . Some are easier to navigate than others . . . and most allow you to get just enough information to want more . . . and then require you to “register” before going further.
When you register, you become what Real Estate Sales people call an “internet Lead” (a Prospect).
This whole internet search process can be VERY frustrating for the average “consumer”
I’m going to tidy up the mess a bit for you:
- Real Estate For Sale information (Listings) is typically entered by a REALTOR into a Local or Regional Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which then serves it out to the users (REALTORS) and the general public (as Permitted by the REALTORS) in a variety of ways. Typically, the REALTORS have access to Historical data which they (and Appraisers) use as a reference when determining opinions of value for properties . . . The general public generally only has access to information “Active” (Currently FOR SALE) properties. Consumers can view Almost ALL “For Sale” properties on the “Public MLS Sites” (Straight from the horse’s mouth) . . . In Middle TN, that public site is at http://realtracs.com
- Direct Feed – The MLS systems can share this data on the internet for others to use on their sites in a variety of ways. The most COMPLETE feed available is the Direct Feed through which virtually ALL “Active Listing” data transfers (in almost real time). VERY FEW Websites are privy to this level of unfiltered information . . . The most prominent of those sites (and the most reliable National Scale site for property searches) is the site for the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) . . . That site is here: http://REALTOR.com
- IDX – Internet Data Exchange is a technology that allows the feed of much (NOT ALL Firms participate) of the data information of the active listings to agent and firm websites. This is a “Sharing Mechanism” whereby IDX participants agree to allow their listings to be on the sites of all other IDX participants and in return for that they can feature the other participants data/listings on their sites. This IDX technology is cool because agents and firms can manipulate the data and search capabilities . . . It also serves as the mechanism for the “Lead Capture Registration” tool mentioned above. The Caveat: Not ALL firms participate in IDX . . . SO . . . Searching for properties on an IDX site (Virtually every firm/agent website) will not necessarily display every property available.
- Syndication – There are “3rd Party” websites out there. Most of these are NOT Real Estate firms. These are commonly known as “Aggregators of data” who can (with a real estate Broker or Agent) permission display active listing information for internet searchers (you). These folks add internet visibility for the listings . . . and they typically have “lead Capture mechanisms” . . . If you register on their site and/or inquire for “more information,” they will “Sell You” as an Internet Lead” to any Real Estate Sales Person willing to pay for leads. http://trulia.com or http://zillow.com – and there are several HUNDRED more of them. Most of these sites are NOT real estate firms . . . they are in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Lead Capture Business.
- REALTOR Networking – Real estate sales pros are a gregarious type . . . We like to TALK . . . and we ALWAYS talk about real estate . . . and when we get together, we tend to talk about HOUSES . . . We talk about houses we know are going to be coming on the market soon and about market trends. So . . . to tap into the “Black Market” side of the real estate industry, having a great relationship with a REALTOR who is well connected among REALTORS and who understands your wants and needs is GOLDEN.
- Open Houses – I encourage you to VISIT Open Houses and LOTS of them. If you haven’t been doing this because you have trepidation about making contact with “Pushy sales-people” I first say that I’ve never been bitten by a REALTOR . . . and if you want a little “Sales Person Teflon” ask your REALTOR for a stack of business cards . . . As you enter each Open House, hand the Host(ess) one of those cards. The real value of Open Houses is that you can see neighborhoods, streets, yards, house decors . . . and can see through some of the “trick photography” that can sometimes make a closet look like a gymnasium on-line 🙂
- Your LOCAL Real Estate Professional – Well! We circled back to it, didn’t we?