Ten years ago, a seek out real estate would have were only available in the office of an area real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend a day flipping through pages of active property listings from the neighborhood Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you found the correct one. Finding market data to help you assess the price tag would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still may not be able to find all the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. An instant keyword search on Google by location will probably get you a large number of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate web site, it is possible to typically view photos online and maybe even have a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, like the local county assessor, to obtain a concept of the property’s value, see what the existing owner paid for the house, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources online are convenient and helpful, using them properly could be a challenge because of the level of information and the issue in verifying its accuracy. During writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 Sites. Even a neighborhood specific seek out real estate can simply return thousands of Internet sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively utilize them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Contrary to popular belief, understanding how the business enterprise of property works offline makes it simpler to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is typically bought and sold either by way of a licensed agent or directly by the dog owner. The vast majority is purchased and sold through real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at the very least historically, their exclusive usage of a database of active properties for sale. Usage of this database of property listings provided the most efficient way to seek out properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is often referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In many instances, only properties listed by member realtors can be put into an MLS. The primary reason for an MLS is to enable the member realtors to make offers of compensation to other member agents should they find a buyer for a house.

This purposes didn’t include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in lots of different forms.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online but aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is comparable to an MLS however the agents adding the listings to the database are not necessary to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated beyond your CIE.

In many instances, for-sale-by-owner properties can’t be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are located by driving around or searching for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are employed interchangeably; however, they are not similar. A REALTOR is really a licensed real estate agent who’s also an associate of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only available in hard copy, so when we mentioned, only directly open to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About a decade ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that the majority of the 1 million roughly REALTORS have Web sites, & most of those Sites have varying amounts of the neighborhood MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are plenty of non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer property information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market websites. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely makes the info more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of property information on the Internet, most properties are still sold directly through realtors listing properties in the neighborhood MLS or CIE. However, those property listings do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the Internet is really a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are normally disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For example, many visit the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com, and to the local property agent’s Web site. In addition, the listing may be displayed online site of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another type of marketing offered by today’s real estate agent, but it includes a much broader reach than the old print advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents also may help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When a realtor provides all these services it is known as being a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common kind of listing arrangement, they are not the only option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to improve the way they conduct business. In large part, that is due to the instant access most consumers will have to property listings along with other real estate information. Furthermore, the Internet along with other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for property. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers may use automated programs to send listings to people that match their property criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they provide and change their fees accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the house in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. Down the road, some realtors may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the web, when people hire a real estate agent today they should look at the particular services provided by the agent and the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. It is no longer just about usage of property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from family and friends. The Internet now provides methods to directly find qualified agents or to research the biography of a realtor referred to you offline. One such site, AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for realtors. On this site an agent can personalize their profile, take up a blog, post photos and videos and even create a link to their web site for free. Once unique content is added to their profile page the various search engines notice!

Some have argued that the web makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the long run. It could change the role of the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the quantity of real estate agents has risen significantly recently. No wonder, the Internet has made local property a global business. chester houses for sale Besides, Internet or not, the easy fact remains that the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase most people make in their life (or, for most investors, the largest multiple purchases over an eternity) and they want specialist help. As for the MLS, it remains the most reliable source of property listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what’s the function of all the online real estate information?