Now and Then Ten years ago, searching for real estate meant that you had to first visit a local agent or drive around the town in search of it. You would spend an afternoon looking through the pages of the active listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) at the agent’s office. You would then spend several weeks touring each property to find the perfect one after selecting properties that interest you. It might take you longer to locate market data that will allow you to determine the asking price. You may also need to drive further to be sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about the fair market value. Most property searches today start online. You can easily search for keywords in Google by location to find thousands of results. You can view photos and take virtual tours online if you find a property that interests you on a real-estate website. To get a better idea of the property’s worth, find out the price paid by the current owner, view census data, check the school information, and check what shops are nearby, you can also check out other websites, such as the local county assessor. Although the Internet offers many useful and convenient resources, it can be difficult to use them correctly due to the sheer volume of information available and the difficulty of verifying their accuracy. A search for “Denver realty” returned 2,670,000 websites at the time of writing. A search for Denver real estate in a specific neighborhood can yield thousands of results. How can an investor make the most of all these resources online without becoming overwhelmed or wasting time? It is possible to understand how the real estate business works offline by understanding online strategies and information. The Business of Real Estate Most real estate is bought and sold through licensed agents or directly by the owners. Most real estate is sold by brokers. We use the terms “agent” or “broker” interchangeably to refer to the same professional. Their real estate experience and access to a large database of properties available for sale are what make this possible. This database contains property listings and is the best way to search for properties. The MLS and CIE Multiple listing service (MLS) is a common name for a database of small income-producing properties, including residential and land properties. An MLS can only be added to by members of real estate agents. An MLS’s primary purpose is to allow member agents to offer compensation to each other agents if they find a buyer. These purposes didn’t include allowing the direct publication of MLS information to the public. Times have changed. Most MLS information can be accessed online in many forms today. Online listings of commercial properties are available, but more difficult to find aggregated information about commercial properties. A commercial information exchange (CIE) is often operated by larger MLSs. CIEs are similar to MLSs, but agents who add listings to the database do not have to offer compensation. Outside the CIE, compensation can be negotiated. Most properties that are for sale by the owner cannot be added directly to an MLS or CIE. These databases are usually maintained by REALTOR associations. These properties can be more difficult to find because there is no central database. These properties can be found by searching the local newspaper’s listings or driving around. You can search for for-sale-by-owner websites in your area to find properties for sale. What is a REALTOR? The terms REALTOR and real estate agent are sometimes used interchangeably. A REALTOR is a licensed agent in real estate who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. A strict code of ethics is required for REALTORS. MLS and CIE property listing information used to be only available in hardcopy. This information was only accessible to CIE members and real estate agents. The trickle has become a flood. The reason is that many of the estimated 1,000,000 REALTORS have websites. Most of these Web sites display varying amounts of local MLS and CIE property information. Many other websites offer real estate information. These include for-sale-by-owner, foreclosure sites, and regional and international listing sites. County assessor sites and valuation and market information. Although the Internet has made real estate information easier to access, it is also more difficult to understand and can be misused. Real Estate Agents Despite all the information available online, many properties are still sold by real estate agents who list properties in the local MLS. These property listings no longer stay in the local area. The Internet is a global marketplace. Listings from local MLS or CIE are usually disseminated to many other Web sites. For example, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com, and the local real estate agent’s Web site. The listing can also be posted on the local newspaper’s Web site. The Internet is essentially another marketing tool for today’s realty agent. However, it has a wider reach than traditional print advertising. Listing agents can help sellers establish a price, hold an open house, keep them informed about interested buyers and offers and negotiate the contract. A full-service listing arrangement includes all the services of an agent. Although full-service listing arrangements are the most popular type of arrangement, they aren’t the only ones. Many agents have had to adapt their business models due to technological changes in the real estate industry. This is due in large part to the ease of access that consumers have now to real estate information and property listings. The Internet and other technologies have also automated much of the initial search and marketing process for real estate. Consumers can search for properties online and send inquiries via email. Automated programs can be used by brokers to send consumers listings that meet their criteria. Agents can now restrict the services they offer and adjust their fees accordingly. Agents may advertise a property on the MLS, but they might only offer limited additional services. Some agents might offer additional services on an ala carte basis in the future. Due to the sheer volume of information available online about real estate, people should consider the specific services provided by an agent as well as their knowledge and experience in the area. Access to property listing information is not enough. Referrals from family and friends have been away for sellers and buyers to find agents. You can now search the Internet to find qualified agents and to review the agent’s biography. AgentWorld.com is fast becoming the LinkedIn and Facebook of real estate agents. Agents can create a free link to their website by creating a profile and starting a blog. Search engines will notice unique content once it is added to the profile page. Some argue that the Internet has made REALTORS and MLS less relevant. This is a false argument that we believe will prove to be untrue in the long term. While it may alter the role of an agent, it will make professional, knowledgeable REALTORS more important than ever. The number of agents in real estate has increased significantly over the past few years. It’s no surprise that the Internet has made local real-estate a global industry. Internet or not, it is clear that real estate purchases are the biggest single purchase most people ever make. For many investors, they also represent the largest number of investments over their lifetimes. They need expert advice. The MLS is still the best source of information about real estate and it continues to be a powerful tool for marketing properties. What is the purpose of all this online real estate information? Online real estate information can be a powerful tool for both buyers and sellers, and also a marketing tool. Buyers can save time and make better investment decisions if they are properly used. Sellers can quickly research the market to make informed decisions about whether they want to hire an agent or market their property online. Next, you need to find the best online resources. Internet Strategies We provide tips and strategies on how to use the Internet for property searches and information related to buying a property. Many websites offer real estate services. Although we don’t intend to endorse any one site, we found these to be reliable resources or so popular that we felt they should be mentioned. You can search for information on a property that you already own to check the accuracy of a website. If you are interested in even more real estate business-related articles and information from us here at Xolo Official Marketing, then we have a lot to choose from.