Mis-informed at the Speed of Light or Looking at the world through a keyhole

zillow trulia RealtorHere’s a common web lead for real estate: I get an email from a lady who says

We are interested in 123 Whatever Lane.  Is this property still available?  Thanks!
Susie Sunshine
Sent from my iPhone”
She’s crushed to hear that this property has been under contract for months and will close next week.  I ask where she found this hot listing so I can clean it up and she says it’s on “several web sites.”  No doubt.  Once a property hits the web, it gets bounced and reposted through the whole web universe beyond anyone’s control.
I use e-marketing, a lot of you will read this online at my web site, so I’m not a troglodyte.  But Internet shopping for real estate still has real limitations.
The foremost problem is accuracy and lag in updating changes in price or status.  A quick sample comparing actual listings from the Summit Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service and Zillow shows several Zillow entries that have sold, been withdrawn, are re-listed with another broker at another price or are active and not shown on Zillow at all.
It’s not just Zillow.  CraigsList is the most egregious offender.  I object to having my listings mixed in with escort services and offers for murder for hire, but worse than that, I’ve had inquiries for properties that sold years ago but were still shown as available and for a spectacularly low 5 year old price.
And what about online appraisals?  If the Zillow database isn’t accurate, particularly with regard to whether a property has actually sold or not, a Zestimate is pretty suspect.
But even a formal appraisal by a certified appraiser is a picture of value in the past few months, not the next few.
A Realtor’s price opinion will take intangibles like market momentum and competing inventory into account to give you an idea of what your property will actually sell for in the near future.
And the only way to have accurate information about properties currently for sale is from a Realtor who has actual listing details and who has experience in the local market.
While the majority of folks now begin the search for real estate on the web, the same buyer beware advice applies for this, just as it does for any other on-line commerce.
By all means have a look at reputable sites like Realtor.com to get a broad picture of the market, but for the real scoop call a Realtor.  Like me.

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