When you decide to go online and begin a home search, whether it on your mobile device, or on your iPad or tablet, or perhaps on your home computer, there are many sites that basically provide you with all the same information. If you didn’t already know, every listing taken by a listing agent is uploaded to the MLS (otherwise known as Multiple Listing Service). The MLS then feeds their link and/or information to the many syndicated sites: Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, our site at ERA, evanrussell.com, RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker, NE Moves… Any of the sites that you can possibly think of that have a mobile app all come from the same source, the MLS.
To find a website that works for you, there are a couple of things you will want to consider: First you want to look at the usability of the site. Is it easy? Are there quality pictures? Is it user friendly and is the listing easily shared? Is the information correct, accurate, and up to date? Is the tax information up? What about the beds, the baths, square footage? Is it all right there in a nice and compact form for you to review? The one caveat is that most of these websites are going to ask or may even require for you to sign in to see more information.
Let me provide some further explanation: A buyer agent or a real estate agent pays for a website to display information to provide you with information. As a real estate agent, we will gladly give you that free information that we pay for through the MLS, through our subscription, through the association and boards. We will give you access to that information, but all we ask is that we can get your contact information in return. Now, most people searching sites for home information are quite opposed to sharing their personal contact information. Some people will even go to the extent of putting in false contact information. I can tell you that this is kind of unnecessary. Most agents will more than give due respect to the fact that when you are looking online, you do not want to be bothered right away. There is an ongoing conversation, even argument, going back and forth as to whether “forced” registration (ie: Put your name in the box to see the rest of the pictures vs. just let the consumer browse) is beneficial or not. A consumer would argue that they just want to browse like they would in a store: “When I walk into Best Buy, I do not have to sign up to go look at the TVs. I can just go look at the TVs.” On the flipside of the coin, Best Buy is not paying to put information out there.
As a real estate agent, we all pay a fee to get that information out there which is why they want you to register. We understand and respect your privacy. Now just to reassure you, most sites when you sign up are not going to inundate you with a bunch of spam email, but, in all honesty, you should probably expect a courtesy phone call from that particular agent or the person who gets your lead, registration, as opportunity. A registration comes into an inbox/an email and, of course, that real estate agent is going to want to reach out and offer to help you. Just as if someone at the retail store would say, “Hey, can I help you with whatever product you are looking at?” Instead of viewing it as an inconvenient intrusion, perhaps it is helpful to view it as an extension of assistance.
It’s best to understand what this information exchange is in the context of a quality of service to be rendered. When you go to the website, you look at the picture, whatever website you choose, and a registration box pops up? Let’s just try this: Just put your information in there. If someone calls, just explain where you are, “Listen, I’m just looking. Thanks a lot. I’ll get back to you if I need something.” No sense in ducking a call and saying, “Oh, here’s the annoying sales person. Here’s the annoying real estate agent.” Because if you look at it this way, it is their site and they are paying for you to have access to that information and, in fact, they are grateful that you are there to use it, and view it, and for you to use that site as your “go to” to find what you are looking for. At the same time, it is more than fair to hold the expectation that that real estate agent may call you to offer you some service. Again, if you do not want it, that is totally fine, but let’s just be honest with the agent and say, “Listen, I’m just looking. I’m all set. I just like your website (Yes, you can compliment it!). It looks really great. I just want to look around for now. Thank you very much.” In all honesty, nine out of ten agent will respect your privacy there and let you go about your business.
This free eGuide will answer many of your questions and likely bring up a few things you didn’t even know you should consider when buying a home.