Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of an area real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend a day flipping through pages of active property listings from the local MLS (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property and soon you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to 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 good market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. An instant keyword explore Google by location will probably get you thousands of results. If you spot a house of interest on a real estate web site, it is possible to typically view photos online and perhaps even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, including the local county assessor, to obtain an idea of the property’s value, see what the existing owner paid for the property, check the true estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even have a look at what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources online are convenient and helpful, with them properly could be a challenge because of the level 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 simply return thousands of Sites. With so many resources online so how exactly does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Contrary to popular belief, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it simpler to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of PROPERTY

Real estate is typically bought and sold either through a licensed agent or directly by the dog owner. The vast majority is bought 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 the very least historically, their exclusive usage of a database of active properties for sale. Usage of 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 mls (MLS). Generally, only properties listed by member realtors can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS would be to enable the member real estate agents to make 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 general 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 comparable to an MLS however the agents adding the listings to the database are not necessary to offer any specific kind of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated beyond your CIE.

Generally, for-sale-by-owner properties can’t be directly put into an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. Having less a managed centralized database can 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 far more efficient solution to locate for-sale-by-owner properties would be 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 used interchangeably; however, they are not similar. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also an associate of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only obtainable in hard copy, so when we mentioned, only directly open to realtors members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this specific property information started to trickle out to the web. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that almost all of the 1 million roughly REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed in it. Another reason is that there are lots of non-real estate agent Sites 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 information sites. chester estate agents The flood of property 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 are still sold directly through realtors listing properties in the neighborhood MLS or CIE. However, those property listings usually do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the web is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are usually disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For instance, many visit the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com, and to the local property agent’s Web site. Furthermore, the listing may be displayed on the net site of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another type of marketing offered by today’s agent, but it has a much broader reach than the old print advertising.

In addition to Online marketing, listing agents may also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep carefully the seller informed of interested buyers and will be offering, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When a realtor provides 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 are not the only option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to improve the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the access immediately most consumers now have to property listings and other real estate information. In addition, the Internet along with other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for real estate. For instance, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send listings to people that match their house criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they offer and change their fees accordingly. A realtor may offer to advertise the house in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. Down the road, some realtors may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the web, when people hire an agent today they should look at the particular services offered by the agent and the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. It is no longer just about usage of property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from family and friends. The Internet now provides methods to directly find qualified agents or even to research the biography of an agent 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, take up a blog, post photos and videos and even create a link to their web site free of charge. Once unique content is put into their profile page the various search engines notice!

Some have argued that the web makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this is false in the end. It could change the role of the agent but can make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the web has made local property a global business. Besides, Internet or not, the easy fact remains that the purchase of real property may be the largest single purchase a lot of people make in their life (or, for most investors, the biggest multiple purchases over an eternity) and they want specialist help. As for the MLS, it remains the most reliable source of property listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what’s the function of all online real estate information?

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