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Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to buy and sell real estate today

Then and now

A decade ago, a property search would have started at a local real estate agent’s office or simply driving around town. At the agent’s office, you spent an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After selecting the properties of interest, you spent many weeks viewing each property until you found the right one. Finding market data that would allow you to estimate the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still may not be able to find all the information you need to really deal with one Familiarize yourself with fair market value.

Nowadays, most real estate searches start on the internet. A quick keyword search on Google for location will likely bring you thousands of results. When you discover an interesting property on a real estate website, you can usually view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other websites, such as B. Visit the local county appraiser to get an idea of the property’s value, see what the current owner paid for the property, check property taxes, get census data, school information and even find out what shops are within walking distance – all without leaving your home!

While the resources on the web are handy and helpful, using them properly can be challenging due to the amount of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search for “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 websites. Even a location-based real estate search can easily return thousands of websites. With so many resources online, how can an investor use them effectively without getting bogged down or dealing with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the real estate business works offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and strategy.

The real estate business

Properties are typically bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly from the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate agents. (We use “broker” and “agent” to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Accessing this database of real estate listings was the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land and smaller income-producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to allow member real estate agents to make offers of compensation to other member agents when they find a buyer for a property.

these purposes did not include enabling the direct release of MLS information to the public; Times are changing. Today, most MLS information is available to the public in many different forms directly over the Internet.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online, but aggregated commercial property information is elusive. Larger MLS often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS, but the agents who enter the entries into the database are not required to offer any particular type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

In most cases, properties for sale cannot be added directly by the owner to an MLS and CIE, which are typically administered by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database can make locating these properties difficult. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for advertisements in local newspaper property listings. A more efficient method of finding property for sale is to search for a site for sale by owner in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and conduct.

Information on MLS and CIE property listings has historically only been available in paper form and, as previously mentioned, is only directly available to real estate agents who are members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable real estate information started leaking out onto the internet. That trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have websites, and most of these websites display varying amounts of local MLS or CIE real estate information. Another reason is that there are many non-real estate agent websites that also offer real estate information, including sell-by-owner websites, foreclosure websites, regional and international listing websites, county appraisal websites, and appraisal and market information sites. The deluge of real estate information on the internet definitely makes the information more accessible, but also more confusing and prone to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real estate agent

Despite the deluge of property information on the internet, most properties are still sold directly through real estate agents who list properties in the local MLS or CIE. However, these real estate offers no longer remain local.

In addition to internet marketing, listing agents can also help the seller set a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the deal, and help close the deal. When an agent performs all of these services, it is called a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common type of listing arrangement, they are no longer the only option.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business has caused many agents to change the way they do business. This is due in large part to the instant access most consumers have to real estate listings and other real estate information. Additionally, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the real estate marketing and initial search process. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquiries via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send offers to consumers that meet their real estate criteria. As such, some agents are now restricting the services they offer and changing their fees accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the property in the MLS but only offer limited additional services. In the future, some real estate agents may offer services more a la carte.

Due to the abundance of real estate information on the Internet today, people hiring a real estate agent should consider the agent’s particular services and the depth of their experience and knowledge of the relevant real estate sector. It’s no longer just about accessing property information. Buyers and sellers have historically found agents through recommendations from friends and family. The Internet now offers opportunities to find qualified agents directly or research the biography of a placed agent offline. One such site,, is fast becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this page, an agent can personalize their profile, start a blog, post photos and videos, and even link to their website for free. Once unique content is added to their profile page, the search engines take notice!

Some have argued that the internet is making REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be wrong in the long run. It may change the role of the broker, but knowledgeable, qualified and professional REALTORS are becoming more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has risen sharply in recent years. No wonder the internet has turned local real estate into a global business. Internet or not, the simple fact remains that for most people buying a property is the single largest purchase of their life (or, for many investors, the largest multiple purchase of a lifetime) and they want expert help. As for the MLS, it remains the most reliable source available for real estate listings and for sale information and continues to enable real estate to be marketed efficiently. So what is the function of all the online real estate information?

Online real estate information is a great research tool for buyers and sellers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used correctly, buyers can save time by quickly researching properties and ultimately making better investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently research the market and make informed decisions about hiring an agent and marketing their properties online. The next step is knowing where to look online for some of the best resources.
Internet Strategies

In the following sections we provide strategies and tips on using the internet to find property for sale and research information relevant to your decision to buy the property. There are many real estate websites to choose from and while we do not intend to endorse any particular site, we have found that in most cases the sites listed here are good resources or are popular enough to be mentioned must. One way to test a website’s accuracy is to look for information about a property you already own.

Search for properties for sale

Despite the widespread access to real estate listings, many believe that MLS databases continue to provide the most complete and accurate source of real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute content to other websites (mainly run by real estate agents). An excellent starting point for MLS content is the NAR national site, which is also the most popular site for finding real estate listings. Almost all local and regional MLSs have an agreement with to display much of their active inventory.

Some local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible website. However, to get complete information, you will most likely still need to find a qualified local REALTOR. Many local real estate agents also make new listings available to their clients (via email) to be entered into the MLS that match their pre-defined criteria. This can be very helpful for a busy shopper.

There are also many websites that display properties listed by real estate agents as well as properties for sale by owners. Some of the better known sites include and These sites also offer other services. For example, is best known for its instant property valuation feature and for providing historical information. Another source of real estate for sale is the state, provincial and local websites associated with brokerage firms; for example or Search engines like and classifieds sites like also have a large number of active real estate listings.

A key difference between these sites is how much information you can access anonymously. For example, you can shop anonymously at to a degree, but then have to click through to the agent’s website for more information. Many new property search engines allow you to browse listings without having to fill out a form. The best strategy is to browse some of the sites listed above to find interesting geographic areas or price ranges. Once you are seriously interested in real estate, it is time to find a qualified REALTOR of your choice to do a full local MLS search.

It also never hurts to search the old-fashioned way by driving through the neighborhoods that interest you. There is no substitute, physical, not virtual, for walking around the corner when making a serious investment decision. Real estate is still a very local business in that sense and standing in front of the property can lead to a very different decision than looking at a website printout.

Valuation of real estate

As mentioned, one of the most popular real estate tools is the instant property valuation from Just enter an address and you will get a real estate value. It even shows the ups and downs of the price and shows the last sale date (including price) and property taxes. There are other websites that offer similar tools like and Unfortunately , many people use these estimates alone to justify sales prices, offers, and counter offers. However, these are only rough estimates based on a formula incorporating the county’s local sales information. These estimates can vary widely over short periods of time and do not always appear to reflect actual market changes, which are usually more gradual. In addition, these estimates do not automatically account for property remodels or renovations or other property-specific or local changes. That’s not to say these sites aren’t useful. In fact, they are great starting points and in many cases can offer good baseball value.

When it comes to getting a more accurate value for a specific property, there are other strategies that are more trustworthy. One is to go directly to your county’s website. In most cases, the County Assessor’s section of the website provides sales and tax information for all properties in the county. If you are researching a specific property or want to compare sales prices of similar properties, the local appraiser websites are very helpful. When you visit a county’s website, you get information straight from the source. Most counties now post real estate information on their websites. Often you can not only see the price a previous owner paid, but also the appraised value, property taxes and maps. Some district appraisers are now also adding market and real estate appraisal tools.

Given the importance of valuation for investments, we also remind you of the two main (non-internet) valuation methods: real estate agents and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient way to obtain value information for a property. While one of the primary purposes of the MLS is to market its members’ active real estate listings, the system also collects sales information for those listings. REALTOR members can access this sales information and create comparable market analyzes (sometimes referred to as CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of a particular property’s value for the market in a particular area.

After all, the most accurate way to value a property is to have an appraisal carried out by a certified appraiser. A valuer typically reviews both the sold information in the MLS system and the county information, and then analyzes the information to create a valuation for the property based on one or more recognized valuation methods. These valuation techniques may include comparing similar properties, adjusting for differences between properties, determining the cost of replacing the property, or, in the case of income-generating property, determining a value based on the income generated by the property.

the neighborhood

There are many ways the internet can help you get information about a specific neighborhood. For example, census data can be found at You can also look at neighborhood information on sites like or check local blogs. A blog is a website where people discuss topics by posting and replying to messages. First, look for a directory of blogs at and has a “Heat Map” that shows how hot or cold each neighborhood is based on price, sales, or popularity with the site’s users.


When it comes to selling residential real estate or family rentals, the quality of the area’s school district makes a big difference. There are many websites dedicated to school information. Visit or Most local school districts also have their own website. These websites contain a variety of information about the public schools and school district, including district demographics, test scores, and parent ratings .

Find the right real estate agent

A new addition to the internet boom in real estate information are websites that allow real estate agents to market their expertise and local knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socializing with blogs. You can search for an agent with a specific area of expertise, a geographic area of expertise, or an agent who offers specific services. On the website, users can quickly and easily find an agent with the right expertise using keyword searches and clean and simple agent profiles. also allows agents to post personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers find the best agent for their needs. Also, many agent profiles include a direct link to the agent’s website where you are likely to find the local MLS listings.

maps and other tools

The internet has made mapping and finding properties much easier. To get an aerial or satellite image of a property or neighborhood, go to or, or visit to see how walkable a particular property is. These pages can give you an idea of what is special about the neighborhood and the types of entertainment, restaurants and other amenities that are within walking distance of the property. offers an oblique view so you can see the sides of houses, and Maps.Google even gives you a 360-degree street-level view for certain neighborhoods. If you haven’t tried any of these satellite map websites, you really should, if only for fun.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

The Internet is a very effective research and marketing Immobilie kaufen tool for real estate investors, but it does not replace a knowledgeable, experienced real estate professional. The internet can save you time and money by making real estate research and marketing options quick and easy. Sites like will also help you efficiently find a REALTOR that fits your buying or selling needs.

Always remember when it comes to internet real estate strategies: more knowledge is better. You need to use the internet to build your knowledge base on a target property or to find a real estate agent with the expertise you need. The big caveat here, however, is that the internet should not replace human judgment and perspective, expert advice, or physical due diligence keys to successful investing.

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