The internet has changed a lot of things in our industry over the past 10 years. When I first started selling real estate in 1999 (which wasn’t THAT long ago) everyone relied on printed MLS books which were issued every other week as their primary source for current information.
Yes, we did have an MLS online, but with dial-up it was a pain in the neck looking up stuff and the old MLS didn’t even have photos online! It was very archaic.
Fast forward to 2011, within seconds a potential buyer can “google earth” a particular property, check out property statistics, neighborhood information, see multiple photos, and read about the school systems with a click of the button. They can go online and read reviews about agents in their area, look at photos of the agents and their dogs :)…or whatever marketing tactic they use to try and connect with the public.
Nowadays, buyers can drive around in their own car with their smart phone with a realtor.com app, zillow app, or trulia app that geo-codes where they are and tells them what’s for sale, who the listing agent is, property details, what the seller paid for it, neighborhood stats, etc. Buyers have just about as much access as the agents do as to what’s available and they can form their own opinion in seconds as to whether or not a property is a good deal. But what’s posted online isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be…
- It might fail to mention that the property owner next door has a pit bull that almost attacked the photographer, or that it won’t stop barking.
- It might not truly represent the floor plan
- The photos might actually look better online than the house actually shows in person (due to photoshop or photo enhancing software)
- It might smell really, really bad…how do you know if a property smells bad by just looking online?
- The view might not accurately be represented (both positively and negatively)
- Ever see a photo of a home online that looks secluded….but when you view it in person there’s a house, a telephone wire, or a neighboring car on blocks that got cropped out of the photo?
Even though technology has enabled everybody to access more information quickly, sometimes the best information is the information that’s not found online. Information like:
- What’s the seller’s motivation (divorce, job transfer, not using it, financial hardship?)
- What other properties sold on that street and were they distressed?
- Is this part of town good for vacation rentals?
- Do I have to worry about a wood shake/shingle roof (click here to read about city ordinance 2007 373)?
- Are there HOA fees, or CC&R’s which would prohibit ______?
- What are the pros/cons for this area?
The internet has definitely changed the way we live our lives, but the knowledge and experience of a good real estate agent is irreplaceable.