The reality about MLS searches on the Internet.
This article attempts to explain what most Buyers don’t understand about MLS listings on various websites on the Internet
This, by far is one of my favorite subjects, the information here is simply a reflection of my Knowledge and Opinions on the “Use” of the MLS systems for casually browsing for properties on the Internet.
The Internet is a great source to use in your early process of searching for homes in the areas that are desirable to you. The multitude of websites have all kinds of nice tools for you to analyze and do some initial research without some pesky Real Estate Agent breathing down your neck. I am a Realtor and I do the same thing, I love to peruse different properties in different states, just to compare prices and see what values are like in different areas of our Country.
Statistics tell us that the average Buyer spends about 6 months on the Internet looking for properties before they start seriously considering moving forward to the process of physically looking at and purchasing a home. Now here is where things get a little confusing to the average Buyer once they are raring to go, this is how the Internet sites work from this point in your journey.
First of all, let’s try and make a few things understandable that may be a little confusing, especially if you are a first time buyer. #1 Most people have now become aware of the acronym “MLS” this stands for the Multiple Listing Service. The MLS is where all of the Real Estate Agents List the properties for sale in a particular area. When a Seller lists a home, they will hire a Real Estate Agent who then will put all of the information onto the MLS so that all of the other Agents can see the property, in Orange County California, that’s a lot of Agents (about 13,000) Chances are the listing agent will not have a buyer for the home that they have listed but there is a very good chance that the other 13,000 agents will, that’s the power of the MLS.
Ok, now we all know what the MLS is! But what about all of the other area’s around the Country? There are thousands of MLS’s, all serving the other areas for Real Estate Agents. And every Real Estate Agent out there and I mean every one has to have a Real Estate license to access their own particular MLS, they also have to pay a fee to use the MLS. So how do all the different websites that you have been looking at have all these homes on their sites? They are allowed to distribute the information through a system called IDX or Internet Data Exchange, in other words it is up to every single agent in the country to decide if they want to allow IDX to distribute their listing when the enter it into the MLS system. Most do, some don’t. That means, chances are you are not seeing all of the listings per your specific criteria on any websites out there on the Internet. You are not having access to the real Mls only a re-hashed version of it. Also this is the same mechanism that you will find on an individual Real Estate Agents website, they will have a property search section somewhere on their site, this is the same information that you will get on every website in the country on the internet. The websites just rehash what is entered into the MLS and may offer other features on their website that give you more of a “Touchy Feely” experience
#2 So now you might start wondering, this is very nice of all these websites to offer me all this information for free, gee I wonder why they are doing this? MONEY, and I mean BIG MONEY!! Ever notice how your Spam picks up after an intense period of surfing the Internet Real Estate web sites! It’s all about advertising revenue and possibly obtaining you as a future Client.
Another thing that these Websites do is they will leave a property on their Website, long after the home has sold, they don’t go out of their way to remove the property because it increases the amount of homes that people will inquire about, therefore increasing their profits. In fact in my research 30-35% of the time the home you are looking at will be in Escrow, Some sites will let you know that others may not.
So, here’s my point, is that how you want to meet the agent that you are going to use to help you make one of the most important decisions of you life? Of course not! Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is still the place to go when you are just starting out, but when it comes time to seriously looking for a home you will want the best Buyers Agent that you can. I strongly suggest that you find a Buyers Agent that will work for you, it will be to your advantage in every way imaginable. After all a Buyers Agent for Real Etate is free as the Seller pays all Agent commissions.