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Real Estate Agents and the Internet - How to choose and Sell Real Estate Today

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Then and Now

Ten years ago, searching for real estate could have started in the office of the local real estate agent or just by driving around town. At the agent's office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of curiosity, you would spend several weeks touring each property and soon you found the right one. Finding market data for you to assess the asking price would harder and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find every one of the information you needed to acquire really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword browse Google by location will more than likely get you thousands of results. In case you spot a property appealing on a real estate internet site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. Then you're able to check other Sites, such as the local county assessor, to obtain an idea of the property's value, see what the current owner paid for the property, check the real estate property taxes, get census data, school information, as well as check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, with these properly can be a challenge due to volume of information as well as the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of "Denver real estate" returned 2,670,000 Internet sites. Even a neighborhood specific look for real estate can easily return a large number of Web sites. With so many resources online so how exactly does an investor effectively make use of them without getting over-involved or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Surprisingly, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it much easier to understand online property information and strategies.

The process of Real Estate

Real estate is usually bought and sold either through an accredited real estate agent or directly through the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use "agent" and "broker" to refer to the same professional.) It's because their real estate experience and, at least historically, their exclusive use of a database of active houses for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the best way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is frequently referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). Typically, only properties listed by member agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member agents to make offers of compensation with other member agents should they find a buyer for any property.

This purposes would not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information on the public; times change. Today, most MLS details are directly accessible to people over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings can 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 though the agents adding the listings towards the database are not required to offer any specific sort of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated away from CIE.

In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties is not directly added to an MLS and CIE, that happen to be typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The possible lack of a managed centralized database could make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or trying to find ads in the local newspaper's real estate property listings. A more efficient approach to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is usually to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site from the geographic area.

Just what REALTOR? Sometimes the terms agent and REALTOR are employed interchangeably; however, they are not exactly the same. A REALTOR is a licensed agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only accessible in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly open to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About 10 years ago, this valuable property information began to trickle out to the web. This trickle is currently a flood!

One good reason is that most of the 2million or so REALTORS have Internet sites, and most of those Sites have varying levels of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is the fact that there are many non-real estate agent Websites that also offer property information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market weblogs. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely helps to make the information more accessible but additionally more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real estate professionals

Despite the flood of real estate property information on the Internet, 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 Internet is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are usually disseminated for visible on many different Web sites. As an example, many go to the Nar Web site,, and also to the local real estate agent's Website. In addition, the listing could be displayed on the Web site of an local newspaper. Basically, the Internet is just another kind of marketing offered by today's real estate agent, but it has a much broader reach compared to the old print advertising.

Together with Internet marketing, listing agents also may help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep your seller informed of interested buyers while offering, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When a real estate agent provides all of these services it really is referred to as being a complete listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements include the most common type of listing arrangement, they are not the only option anymore.

Adjustments to the technology behind agreement business have caused many agents to switch the way they do business. Mostly, this is due to the instant access most consumers are in possession of to property listings along with other real estate information. In addition, the Internet and other technologies have automated a lot of the marketing and initial searching process are the real deal estate. For example, consumers can watch properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to transmit listings to people who match their property criteria. So, some agents are now limiting the services they offer and modify their fees accordingly. A representative may offer to advertise the home in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. Later on, some real estate agents may offer services in more of your ala carte fashion.

As a result of volume of real estate facts about the Internet, when people hire a real estate agent today they ought to look at the particular services provided by the agent along with the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. Select longer just about access to property listing information. Clients historically found agents by referrals from friends. The Internet now provides approaches to directly find qualified agents as well as to research the biography of your agent referred to you offline. The type of site,, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this site a real estate agent can personalize their profile, take up a blog, post pics and vids and even create a connect to their web site free of charge. Once unique content is added to their profile page search engines like google notice!

Some have argued that this Internet makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We feel this will be false in the end. It may change the role from the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of realtors has risen significantly in recent times. No wonder, the Internet has created local real estate a worldwide business. Besides, Internet or otherwise, the simple fact remains that the purchase of real property will be the largest single purchase many people make in their life (or, for several investors, the largest multiple purchases more than a lifetime) and they want expert help. Alternatives MLS, it continues to be the most reliable source of real estate property listing and sold information available and is constantly enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate property information?

Online real-estate information is a great research tool for consumers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used properly, buyers can conserve time by quickly researching properties and, ultimately, make smarter investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently investigate the market and make informed decisions about employing an agent and marketing their properties online. The next task is to know where to search the web for some of the best resources.
Internet Strategies

Within the sections that follow, we offer strategies and tips about how to use the Internet to locate virginia homes and research information strongly related your decision to purchase the home. There are many real estate Internet sites from which to choose and although we don't mean to endorse any particular Web site, we have found the ones listed here to be good resources in most cases or to be so popular that they need mention. One way to test a Web site's accuracy would be to search for information about a house you already own.

Finding Real estate property for Sale

Despite the widely accessible access to real estate listings, many believe MLS databases always offer the most complete and accurate source of real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute happy to other Web sites (primarily run by real estate agents). An excellent place to start for MLS originated content is the national NAR Web site,, and this is the most popular web site for searching real estate listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs provide an agreement with to show off much of their active listing inventory.

Some local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible Website. However, to get complete information you may most likely still need to locate a qualified local REALTOR. Many local agents will also provide the clientele (via email) new listings that are input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This can be very helpful to a busy buyer.

Additionally, there are many Web sites that display both realtor listed and for-sale-by-owner properties. Many of the more popular Web sites include and These websites offer other services too. For example, is best noted for its instantaneous property valuation function and for providing historical information. Another way to obtain properties for sale is the state, regional, and native Web sites associated with brokerage companies; as an example, or and classified advertising sites like possess a large number of active real estate listings.

One key difference between these sites is how many details you can access anonymously. For example, at you'll be able to shop anonymously up to a point but you will need to click through towards the agent's Web site to find out more. Many new real estate search engines allow you to dig through listings without having to submit a form. The best strategy is to browse some of the sites listed above to locate geographic areas or price tags that are interesting. When you are serious about a property, then that's the time to find a qualified REALTOR of your choice to conduct an entire search in the local MLS.

In addition, it never hurts to look the old-fashioned way by driving with the neighborhoods that interest you. There is no substitute for physically, not virtually, walking the block when you're making a serious financial commitment. In this sense, property is still a very local business and standing in front of the property can lead to a much different decision than viewing a Web page printout.

Valuing Real Estate

As we mentioned, the most popular real estate tools is's instant property valuation. Just enter an address and in so you get a property value. It even charts the price good and the bad, and shows the very last date sold (including price) and also the property taxes. There are other sites that provide similar tools such as and Unfortunately, many people use these estimated values alone to justify sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, they're only rough estimates using a formula that incorporates the local county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly on the short period of time and do not apparently always track actual market changes, that are normally more gradual. Additionally, these estimates usually do not automatically take into account property remodels or renovations or other property specific or local changes. This isn't to say these sites aren't useful. In fact, these are great starting points and will provide a good ball-park value most of the time.

When it comes to getting a better value for a particular property, there are many strategies that are more trustworthy. The first is to go directly to your county's Site. More often than not the county assessor's part of the Web site provides sales and tax information for all properties in the county. In order to research a particular property or compare sales prices of comparable properties, a nearby assessor's sites are really helpful. Once you visit a county's Web site you are getting information straight from the source. Most counties today publish property info on their Web sites. Many times you may cannot only see the price a previous owner paid, nevertheless the assessed value, property taxes, and maps. Some county assessors have become adding a market and property valuation tools too.

In the importance of valuation to investing, were also going to remind you of the two most important (non-Internet) valuation methods: realtors and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient way of getting value information to get a property. While one of the primary purposes of the MLS is usually to market the active property listings of the members, the system also collects sales information for anyone listings. REALTOR members are able to pull this sales information and provide comparable market analyses (sometimes called CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of your particular property's value for that market in a particular area.

Finally, one of the most accurate way to value a property is by having a certified appraiser provide an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review both sold information within the MLS system and also county information and after that analyze the information to generate a valuation for the property based on one or more approved types of valuation. These methods of valuation range from a comparison of similar properties adjusted for differences relating to the properties, determine the cost to replace the property, or, with the income producing property, determine a price based on the income generated from the property.

The Neighborhood

There are several ways the Internet may help you get the scoop on a particular neighborhood. As an example, census data are available at You may also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like or review local blogs. Your site is a Web site where individuals discuss topics by posting and answering messages. Start by considering and to get a directory of blogs. carries a "Heat Map" that shows how hot each neighborhood is founded on prices, sales, or popularity among the sites users.


In relation to selling residential property or rental properties that serve families, the quality of the location school district is really a huge difference. There are many Sites devoted to school information. Take a look at or Most local school districts also have their own Web site. These websites contain a variety of information about the public schools and the school district, including its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.

Choosing the best Real Estate Agent

A recent accessory for the Internet boom in tangible estate information is Web sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and native knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially networking with blogs. Search to find an agent which has a particular expertise, geographic part of specialization, or an agent offering specific services. The site lets users quickly find an agent with the proper expertise using keyword searches and clean and simple agent profiles. also enables agents to post personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers get the best agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles add a direct link to the agent's website where you will likely find the local MLS listings.

Maps as well as other Tools

The Internet has made mapping and locating properties less difficult. To get an aerial view or satellite picture of a property or neighborhood, head to or or visit to find out how walk-able a particular property owner. These sites can give you a solid idea of the neighborhood characteristics and also the types of entertainment, restaurants, and other facilities that are within easy reach of the property. gives a view at an angle in order to see the sides of homes and Maps.Google even gives you a 360 degree street-level view for several neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of them satellite map Web sites, you really should if only for amusement.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

The world wide web is a very effective research and marketing strategy for real estate investors however it is not a replacement for a knowledgeable experienced real estate agent. The Internet can save you time and money by enabling fast and simple property research and marketing options. Sites like also assist you efficiently look for a REALTOR who fits your selling needs.

Always remember, in relation to Internet strategies for real-estate: More knowledge is much better. You need to use the Internet to develop your knowledge base over a target property as well as to find a real estate agent with expertise you will need. However, the big caution this is that the Internet should not replace human judgment and perspective, expert consultancy or physical due diligence-keys to successful investing.

Last updated 241 days ago by charlesstallions