Real Estate Made Easy…or Not.

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OK, this rant has been coming for quite some time…it’s been brewing for years as a matter of fact. It’s finally arrived! Once upon a time we took vacations and other trips by calling travel agents or we used guide books to help us plan. Then came the glorious internet and that changed everything. Now everybody books travel, hotels, car rentals on sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Priceline. Simple and easy…right? Well…this philosophy has transferred over to the real estate world with websites like Zillow and Trulia and Redfin, to name a few. It seems to me that a great number of people now think that these real estate websites are just as accurate and useful as the travel sites.

Except me. I don’t think they are. I think they’re a big pain in the butt. OK, they do indeed make looking at homes a significantly easier process than what existed before. I actually think Redfin’s website is better than the MLS site! The problem I have with these sites is…their freaking information is wrong half the time! It seems like an increasingly larger part of my job involves dealing with their mistakes…and I have mostly NO ability to do anything about those mistakes. I can’t even understand how those mistakes can possibly happen? It’s really very annoying.

First of all it’s important to understand one thing…these public real estate sites BUY their information from the MLS. The information they get is the same stuff we input. They get a feed from the MLS with the data. Here’s a couple of examples of what drives me nuts. Last year I had a listing on Ventura in San Mateo. It was a 1960 sq ft, 3 bedroom house. Zillow showed that it was townhouse with an HOA. Exactly how did Zillow come up with that? Who knows? Frankly…I couldn’t care less how much Zillow screws up their page. The house got 5 offers and sold $131,000 over asking…Zillow doesn’t sell houses. The house sells itself. The problem is, the sellers notice Zillow’s mistakes and 1) think it’s my fault and 2) expect me to fix it. Cuz Zillow’s the Holy Grail right? What’s on there is the truth…right?

Seriously, it seems like every listing I get anymore has some problem with one of the public websites. A couple of weeks ago I had a listing in Cupertino where the virtual tour photos inexplicably didn’t show up on the property’s listing on Trulia. What’s especially confusing is that Trulia is owned by the same folks at Zillow…and the photos were published on Zillow just fine. Calling the MLS about this kind of stuff is amusing. It’s sort of like calling the Highway Patrol’s 800 number and telling them you just saw somebody speeding on 101. They’re polite…but they think I must be crazy for bringing up the most obvious thing on Earth. Plus…they’re sick of hearing about it.

Here’s my advice. If your a seller, hold loosely onto what you see on these sites. The house will sell…believe me! Just prepare your home correctly and people will find it. If Trulia’s listing is screwed up there’s 15 other sites buyers will see it on. If your a buyer…confirm everything you read on these sites with your agent. Buying  house isn’t as simple as booking a hotel room in Dallas.

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