Four Drawbacks You Must Know about Online Real Estate Searches*
By now, most San Diego home buyers are aware that they can search San Diego real estate for sale from the comfort of their own homes (on their own personal computers) on websites such as Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Realtor.com, MSN, Yahoo, GLOBELLA.com, or other San Diego real estate websites. In fact, you may have even heard of people buying San Diego real estate through the internet, site-unseen. While this is certainly viable in today's techno-savvy world, there are specific things you should be aware of before you start your online San Diego real estate search.
1. Stale Listings
The more time you spend searching for San Diego real estate online, the more you will come across listings that look like they're available but really are not. These listings are known as 'stale listings,' and they can cause a lot of frustration for a buyer searching for San Diego real estate online. There is no easy solution for online real estate search websites to deal with stale listings. Some websites get their listings from individual sellers' agents who post their own listings individually. If an agent forgets to take the listing off that website when it gets sold, it becomes a stale listing. And if many agents forget to update their listings, you get many stale listings in your search results. There are other factors to this, but in general you should know that you will see stale listings no matter where you search for San Diego real estate online... even on our website. The only way to avoid wasting time perusing through stale listings is to partner with a REALTOR® who has access to the San Diego Multiple Listing Service (the Sandicor MLS).
2. Inaccurate Data
You must be careful when looking at San Diego real estate data on the internet. It is a known fact that many online San Diego real estate listings contain errors. For example: It is possible to purchase a home over the internet that you think has four bedrooms, but you find out later that it only has two. The internet is a wonderful resource full of information, but nothing should take the place of seeing the homes you are considering in person. Some websites also provide estimated home values. A San Diego home buyer must understand that these websites cannot provide fool-proof estimates. Most of these websites are getting their information from public property tax records and other database sources. In San Diego, foreclosure auctions where banks buy back their own homes at the county steps can often be recorded into the public records. If these show up as comparable sales on online real estate websites (and they sometimes do), they can affect the estimated home value in an errant way.
Another example of inaccurate data in online real estate searches is Missing Listings. Simply put, online real estate searches don't always have every listing. Your dream home could be missing from your search results, even if it's actually for sale! These are just a couple of examples of inaccurate data on online San Diego real estate websites.
3. Dealing with Sellers' Agents
A San Diego real estate agent DOES NOT represent you or your best interests unless you have signed a representation agreement with that agent. If the agent is a REALTOR®, his/her code of ethics requires him/her to treat you honestly, but keep in mind that most San Diego real estate agents that you find through online real estate searches are sellers' agents (or they work for San Diego real estate brokerages that take listings/represent sellers). A San Diego real estate agent is not required to act with your best interests in mind, even if that agent has answered questions or even showed you properties (unless you've formed a representation agreement with that agent). If that agent's brokerage has an agreement with a seller, the agent's fiduciary duties are to the seller and not to you (this means that the agent's job is to get the highest price and best terms for the seller). Be careful what you say (and who you say it to) regarding your San Diego real estate search. Protect your best interests by hiring a San Diego exclusive buyer agent. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends hiring an exclusive buyer's agent in its 2010 publication, "Shopping for Your Home Loan."
4. Not Updated in Real-Time
If you are a serious buyer, then you want to know about the listings that match your San Diego real estate search criteria as soon as they come on the market. One thing that can truly hamper your search efforts is finding out too late about properties that meet your San Diego real estate needs. Websites that offer consumers the ability to search San Diego real estate for sale such as Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Yahoo, MSN, GLOBELLA.com, and all other real estate search websites are NOT updated in real time. The first thing a seller's agent does when he/she gets a new San Diego real estate listing is enter it into the Sandicor MLS (San Diego REALTORS® are required to submit their listings to the MLS within 24 hours of signing the listing agreement). So, where do you think you would find the newest listings? ON THE MLS! San Diego real estate agents who are members of Sandicor can see a new San Diego real estate listing the very minute that a seller's agent inputs it into the database! The very minute! However, sites like MSN, Yahoo, Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, GLOBELLA.com, and all other San Diego real estate websites do NOT get the listings immediately. Most of them get a feed once/day of new listings, but others only get listings if a seller's agent inputs them onto the website himself/herself. That means that if you are working with a committed San Diego exclusive buyer agent with MLS-access, you could literally go see a new San Diego property for sale and have an offer submitted before the online real estate search websites even show that the listing is available!
* While this article deals with the drawbacks of searching San Diego real estate for sale on the internet, there are certainly great benefits to having access to these websites. Online San Diego real estate search websites can provide a sound overview of what's available in a specific marketplace, as well as general statistics about certain areas. The purposes of this article are to provide a resource for San Diego home buyers, as well as to communicate to buyers that they can have more accurate and trustworthy real estate information when the time comes for them to seriously consider a San Diego real estate purchase.
Exclusive Buyer Agents do not list homes for sale and never represent sellers. They have no "inventory" to try to sell you. They can represent you in purchasing any home. They are specialists at representing buyers only on the buyers' side of the transaction. Exclusive Buyer Agents work to get buyers the best price and terms when they buy a home.
If you have excellent credit and plan to buy a home or condo in San Diego County within 90 days, contact Justin Gramm to hire an agent on your side of the transaction. Call Justin at (858) 437-2662 or E-mail.More about Justin Gramm on Google+.