I was reading an article on 1000 Watts Consulting's blog about using online real estate tools. Brian had a great point. Zillow and Redfin are technology websites, they have tons of information, but should not replace a local Realtor. Keep in mind the following:
- There could be errors, such as a property showing up as active that is actually sold
- The Realtors shown as experts along the sides of websites such as Zillow may be paying for their exposure and might not necessarily be a local Realtor or your area expert
- Often times when looking at any website, you might not know until further investigation about any major deficiencies such as foundation, electrical or more
- A good local Realtor has their finger on the pulse of market. Pretty web-tours do not necessarily equate to a sound investment and conversely, some properties with awful photos and filthy carpet maybe the best investments!
Read an excerpt from this Brian Botero's article posted on 1000 Watts Consulting :
We have some work to do
I was going through email on my iPad the other day when for whatever reason I decided to look around my neighborhood using the Zillow iPad app.
This app, you should know, is a marvel. It’s elegant, intuitive, and lights up a ton of possibilities for improving how we look for a place to live.
But I ran into a problem right away. A big one.
The first “for sale” home I came across – a cute little place I see every morning walking my daughter to school – was, well ” not really for sale.
It sold over a year ago in fact – on October 1, 2009. I know this because I’ve met the woman who bought it. And because Zillow itself displays this information below the listing!
Here it is, in case you want to make an unsolicited offer on a place in Oakland:
What if my fictional couple fell in love with this place?
But hey, they’re grown-ups. It’s OK. They’ll just select one of the “buyers agents” suggested on this listing to help them find another home in the neighborhood. They look like good folks. And they have lots of “contributions.” Contributions sound good.
But then there’s problem #2: None of these agents truly knows this neighborhood.
I pay attention to the real estate activity around my home more than most people. There are good agents that know this neighborhood inside and out. Diane, Deidre, or Dana come to mind.
But I have never heard of the Realtors promoted on this listing. Never seen a for sale sign with their name on it. Never seen their card at an open.
My couple? They are directed out of a home search dead-end and toward a path that could land them in a ditch.
Yes, those agents are there because they paid to be there. And Zillow’s a media company. All’s fair.
But is all good?
I like Zillow because they have challenged real estate on many fronts. I have said many nice things about them here. And though they are responsible for this particular example, this is hardly just a Zillow problem. This game of real estate roulette is played on many sites.
But let me be clear: this has got to stop.
These are homes, folks, not sweaters. Having your inventory shit together matters. It carries consequences. People don’t want to be messed with. Not people like my buyers. Not the single mother with two kids who bought the home above a year ago and probably has no idea it’s being offered for sale on a site visited by millions of people every month...
Thanks Brian for your article. You are right, use online tools such as Zillow to get a general idea of what is happening in the marketplace, but call a Realtor for personalize service and in depth data.