The start of a home search for nearly everyone starts online…. Zillow.com, Trulia.com, realtor.com. There are a ton of sites out there for people to view homes for sale, recently sold, or even get an estimate on what these sites think the value of a home is. The problem is, this information can be widely inaccurate and this ultimately leads to disappointment & frustration for home shoppers & sellers alike. Let me explain.
Not all homes for sale are syndicated on these public sites.
- It is up to the seller to decide if they want their home listed on these public sites or not. Therefore, all homes that are listed for sale on the real estate MLS ( multiple listing service) site are not necessarily shown for sale on the public sites. Your dream property may not even coming up in your search, but it’s sitting right there on MLS. To get a true picture of what is out there for sale, you’ll want to talk with a realtor.
Data is not refreshed in a timely manner.
- The 3rd party sites aren’t always refreshed in a timely manner so what may still look like an active listing for sale on Zillow is actually under contract on MLS. I’ve even had a buyer send me a house for sale on Zillow to get my opinion and when I looked at MLS, it was sold months ago. You don’t want to fall in love with a house online to then see it’s not even for sale.
Data is not complete.
- MLS has hundreds of fields that realtors can fill in to give a complete picture of what the home has. The online public sites only have a fraction of that. So if you have a specific requirement in a home, you may think it’s perfect from your search online, but once you actually see the home or your realtor does the digging for you, it turns out to be missing one of your requirements.
Online home value estimates are widely inaccurate.
- These public sites are using an algorithm and do not take into account the true details of a house. The public sites don’t know about improvements that have been made to the home and if information like the number of bedrooms or square footage is off, the online estimate will be off. These sites also use comparable sales for their data points and what they think is a comp, may not be a comparable property when you look at the true factors of the houses.
Even with these points, I do still support buyers shopping online. It is a good way to get a taste of the different types of homes & a general idea of what is out there. Once a buyer has spent time searching online, the safest bet is to share what they found with a realtor and go look at the homes in person. Pictures online can be hiding some important characteristics about the home and you can only get the true picture until you are on the property.
If you have been poking around online on your own and you want to share with a REALTOR® what you have been looking at in Colorado, I’d love to help! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out via the contact information below: