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August 15, 2012

The Unwritten Rules Of Internet Real Estate Websites

Hi Folks,
   Once in a while, there is information that I like to share with you, however, I like to try not to cross over the line of impartial (not by too much, at least) to "Sales Pitch". Today is one of those such days!

   As anyone in the Real Estate industry will tell you, with a few clicks of the mouse, you can have a seemingly infinite amount of resources to help you decide to buy or sell a property. Data on past sales, photos, floor plans, etc, can all be located on the Internet, and can speed up the entire process.

   However, "not all websites are created equal, and not every participant knows how to properly harness the opportunities offered by the Web", says David Bediz, principal of the Dwight and David Group, LLC of Coldwell Banker Dupont, in a story titled, "Real Estate in the Internet age", on the website, WashingtonBlade.com. Bediz points to some agents that are still relying on "blurry cell-phone-camera photographs to help them sell their listings". Bediz says that sellers need to monitor their listings for mistakes and to be more vigilant. As for the other side of the closing table, Bediz say that Buyers have a "responsibility to themselves to learn the differences in online information sources"

   When we talk about Real Estate data websites, quite often, Trulia and Zillow are quoted by major media outlets, but as Bediz says, "the truth is that most of their listings contain inaccuracies.", and he says that most notably, "Trulia and Zillow are notorious for posting listings as “Active” that have long since sold.", and says that they "rarely post listings at the moment they are listed. This prevents a serious homebuyer from learning about a new home listing quickly enough to act on it, especially in a situation where there could be multiple offers."

   Why do these "big fish" websites have these deficiencies?

   Bediz says that it, in a way, "it’s because of their sheer size", and adds that since they are nationwide sources of data, and "to collect data from every corner of the country, they cannot possibly rely on a direct connection to each online database (Multiple Listing Service, or MLS) for each area. This is especially true when some areas are served by several MLS’s, and also when many of these services charge upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for direct access to their services." The way they go about it, as Bediz describes, is that they rely on "relationships with the major brokerages that exist nationwide to feed information to them directly, and they also have built-in programs to scour the web for additional listing and sale data." For any properties listed by a smaller brokerage, those listings may never show up on these two major sites (since they wouldn't have a "direct method for feeding listing data to those websites").

   So how can a buyer ensure that they are seeing current (as well as accurate) listings, and how can a seller ensure their listings are seen everywhere (including Trulia and Zillow)?

   Bediz suggests that buyers should visit "REALTOR.com or, locally, HomesDatabase.com, which is the public side of the only MLS that serves Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas.". He also suggests checking out "Other individual and broker websites" (including his website, www.DwightandDavid.com), which he says has, "direct connections to the MLS". For Rent to Own Homes websites, such as our site (Lease2Buy.com and HomeRunHomes.com), there is no direct connection to Trulia and Zillow, however, we do Feed our listings to them, and they get picked up as for Sale, with the keywords of your descriptions absorbed within the listing on other major Nationwide Real Estate Data and Listing websites. This certainly boosts traffic to your Ad.

   Bediz suggests that you ask an agent that might list your home if "their brokerage has a direct feed to Trulia and Zillow.", and if the agent pays to "advertise on those sites, or pays to increase the visibility of their listings there.".

   What has your experience been with Trulia, Zillow, and other major Real Estate data websites?

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Have a Great Week, and Happy Rent-to-Owning !
Rob Eisenstein
Rent to Own Homes and Real Estate Blog for HomeRun Homes: http://blogging.lease2buy.com
HomeRun Homes Websites: http://www.lease2buy.com and http://www.homerunhomes.com

TAGS: #RealEstateWebsite #Trulia #Zillow #MultipleListingService #MLS #brokerage #realtor #renttoown #listings #offers #pastsales #floorplans #homebuyer #feeds

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