Real Estate Agents and the web – How to Trade Real Estate Today

Ten years ago, a seek out real estate would have started in the office of a local 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 local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend weeks touring each property and soon you found the right one. Finding market data to help you assess the price tag would take more time and much more driving, and you still may not be able to find each of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by location will likely get you a large number of results. If you spot a house of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to get an idea of the property’s value, see what the existing owner paid for the property, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and also check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, using them properly can be a challenge because of the volume of information and the issue in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 Sites. Even a neighborhood specific seek out real estate can easily return thousands of Internet 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? Contrary to popular belief, understanding how the business of property works offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is normally bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly by the 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 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 multiple listing service (MLS). Normally, only properties listed by member realtors can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS would be to enable the member realtors to create offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a house.

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 many 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 are not required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated beyond your CIE.

Usually, for-sale-by-owner properties can’t be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are typically 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 looking 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 Internet site in the geographic area.

Exactly what is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are employed interchangeably; however, they are not similar. A REALTOR is really a licensed real estate agent who’s also a member 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 available to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About a decade ago, this specific property information began 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, & most of those Sites have varying amounts of the neighborhood MLS or CIE property information displayed in it. Another reason is that there are several 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 real estate information to the web 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 remain sold directly through realtors listing properties in the local MLS or CIE. However, those property listings do not stay local anymore. houses for sale chester By its nature, the web is really a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are normally disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For instance, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Site, http://www.realtor.com, also to the local real estate agent’s Web site. In addition, the listing could be displayed online site of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another type of marketing offered by today’s agent, but it includes 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 a realtor provides all these services it is known as being a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common kind of listing arrangement, they’re not the only real option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to change the way they conduct business. In large part, this is due to the instant access most consumers will have to property listings along with other real estate information. In addition, the Internet along with other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for property. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers may use automated programs to send listings to people that match their property criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they provide and change their fees accordingly. An agent 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 level of real estate information on the web, when people hire an 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 access to property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from family and friends. The Internet now provides ways to directly find qualified agents or to research the biography of a realtor 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 also create a connect to their web site for free. 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 is 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 before. In fact, the quantity of real estate agents has risen significantly recently. 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 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 property 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?

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