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Online Real Estate Listings are Stale

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I mentioned yesterday I put in an offer and then upped the escalation clause after learning of three other offers. Well, the hammer will come tonight when the seller’s agent and the seller get together and ratify one of the contracts. My agent’s excited because it’s my friend and I’ll be her first sale. One of my other friends said I should be owed a couple steak dinners or a phatty house-warming gift, so I’ll be looking in the mail for some soggy envelopes filled with steaks.

Anyway, in the waiting, I’ve come to discover the various free services showing home listings just aren’t real-time enough for me (or anyone really). My girlfriend looked up some homes via and by the time I emailed my agent-friend, all but one (of perhaps 8 or 9) were already sold. That means I was looking at stale data. Does that mean the real estate market is sizzling hot here or are all of these Realtor sites or sites just slow?

It then occurred to me… if these sites were super-real-time, what advantages would there be for a realtor? They still need to keep a chip in their back pocket in terms of information otherwise I could just go the route of “For Sale By Owners” once I knew the pitfalls to look for (i.e. how to structure the contract, how now to get hosed in terms of inspections, etc).

Also, I suppose a realtor would be necessary to actually look at the home if the owners weren’t there. They have this neat little add-on to a PDA (mine had a ancient looking Zire) that transferred a code to the key-box. After a few seconds, some technology mumbo-jumbo, there’d be a click and a key case would drop out. Whoever came up with that system is probably ridiculously filthy rich.

Finally, one thing I think my agent didn’t really do totally correct so far was point out bad things in a house. My other friend who just bought one mentioned something about how homes in the early nineties used a certain type of piping (not PVC, something burethane [sp?]) that would need to be replaced after ten years because of leakage. A home inspection would find that out but by then you’ve made an offer and now you’re just backing out of it, so you’re in pretty deep at that point. The replacement cost is $5,000 – $10,000. (holy crap!) Pointing out what’s bad about a house is something I need to know because I’m pretty functional – four walls, a roof, and I’m happy. That place to the left looks pretty sweet to me. 🙂

{ 5 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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5 Responses to “Online Real Estate Listings are Stale”

  1. risk says:

    many realtors are investors themselves. They act very fast. Good bargains are off from the list in days, literally one day or two, it’s under contract.

  2. Tim says:

    2 things:

    Some houses take a while to get posted to the home realty websites because the realtors either are too busy to do it, or they don’t know how to do it right…(straight from a friend of mine’s mouth, who is a realtor)(the person, not the mouth is a realtor.) Anyways, house listings without pictures are NOT eye sores and they did not include a picture on purpose, they were just too dumb to figure out how to load the picture on the website. I don’t really think there is a conspiracy theory that realtors hide the best houses for themselves. the fact is, you need realtors searching for houses because–#1, they see houses as soon as they as listed, not on the website, #2, hopefully you have a fulltime job, paying someone else to find you a house is worth your money (see jim’s past article on “what’s your time worth?”)…

    And the second thing is that after a home inspection you can have clauses that you say, “okay, i see the pipes are butylethylene (whatever) you have to replace them or I will back out of the deal.” you can still get your money back, if you have that clause in your contract, it might be a good thing to check on, most if not all have that. like, i told the owners that they needed to fix some loose siding before I bought it–they did that was fine. sometimes the owner will say, no, i don’t want to fix it. then you can walk or suck it up and fix it yourself. My home inspector told me about those pipes, luckily I had copper piping which was rare he said for a post-1990 townhome.

    don’t forget to check the heat pump and water heater, those need to be replaced every 10-15 years…so it might be due…look for water stains in the basement/garage, and near the water heater or the inside portion of our heating system…phew, that was alot. maybe i should just come with you to look at houses!

  3. Wes says:

    Yes, the data is stale. My guess is that the agencies WANT the data to be stale. If you want fresh data, you need to be signed up with a realtor. The agencies hold the data for a certain period before realeasing it to MLS. If the data was fresh, why would you need a realtor? The realtors want you locked in with them.

    Has anyone experienced “bait n switch”? My wife and I have been looking for 18 months and I would guess that roughly 90% of the descriptions were grossly inaccurate. Not just exaggerated but inaccurate.

    Have agents decided that it’s ok to misrepresent the property just to get buyers in the door?

    – mud room when there is no mud room
    – cathedral ceiling when there was none
    – inlaw apartment when there was only an unfinished basement
    – waterfront when there was no water besides the neighbor’s above ground pool
    – 2600 sq ft when the town records say 1791 sq ft

    I am really gettin p’d off at the inaccuracies. Class action suit for “truth in advertising”????

  4. jim says:

    I have yet to encounter any obvious bait and switches, but I have seen some awfully constructed listings. I’ve seen listings where they list the lot’s acreage and square footage instead of the actual townhomes and lots of minor inconsistencies that haven’t been substantial enough to be qualified as a bait and switch.

    What I don’t understand is that with the advent of digital cameras, why there aren’t more pictures of the inside of a home… it seems like something that’s very important and easy to implement.

  5. After reading this post, I was compelled to clear up a few things and enlighten the public about their sometimes misleading and even blatantly ignorant conception some may have about Realtors©. I hope that this gives you more insight on a Realtors© responsibility to their client. I also seek to enlighten the reader about some misunderstandings as to the way the system actually works.

    Misconception #1: “one thing I think my agent didn’t really do totally correct so far was point out bad things in a house.”…A home inspection would find that out but by then you’ve made an offer and now you’re just backing out of it, so you’re in pretty deep at that point.”

    Fact – Realtors© are not inspectors. While some have have some insight on building codes and may have a good eye for what is good or bad; this is not their job. What Realtors© do or do not say concerning a homes structure should be verified by a qualified professional; a home inspector. The major reason for the ‘option period’ is to buy you time, usually 10 days from the time both parties have signed the contract, to get an inspection. The option period also takes the home off the market until the perspective buyer makes a final decision usually based on the inspection results. If there are any problems that cannot be resolved through negotiations, then the buyer can back out and all that is lost is the 100 option fee and cost for the inspection . That beats being locked into a bad contract any day.

    Misconception #2: “Yes, the data is stale. My guess is that the agencies WANT the data to be stale. If you want fresh data, you need to be signed up with a realtor. The agencies hold the data for a certain period before releasing it to MLS. If the data was fresh, why would you need a Realtor? The realtors want you locked in with them.”

    Fact: This is completely ridiculous. There is no conspiracy theory in play here. The data that you find on many real estate websites come directly from the Multiple Listing Service, aka the MLS. So to say the data is stale is inconsistent. Data posted to the MLS is fresh because it was just posted to the MLS. It leaves the MLS once a buyers agent finds a qualified buyer and the seller and buyer agree on the terms. Realtors© want to put listings up as soon as possible. Sometimes this can be contingent upon lining things up with the seller. The listing agent, also known as the seller’s agent, has a fiduciary duty to do what the seller request; even if it is not in the seller’s best interest. The agent can only suggest optimal circumstances and practices but it ends there. The seller has the final word. Once a listing goes on the MLS the agent has 3 days to post pictures. Otherwise the agency can be fined.

    Misconception #3: Real estate agents pull a “bait and switch” technique in order to show a potential buyer a home by adding or embellishing a listing.

    Fact: MLS information comes from the appraisal district, the builder or the seller. Sometimes the seller may override information from the appraisal district, but then this would be listed next to the information. The agent does not and should not put arbitrary numbers and measurements on the MLS. There is a hefty price tag for misinformation placed in the MLS. If your real estate agent is consistently misleading you, ask them if they were aware of this before showing you the property. Busy Realtors© don’t always have a chance to preview every property before showing it to you. There just isn’t enough time in a day, and there are thousands upon thousands of homes especially in large cities. So it would be literally impossible. The MLS requires strict guidelines that are to be followed else the Realtor© can be in serious trouble. This helps protect the public from being mislead. If you feel your Realtor© is intentionally doing this to you, then confront him. If it continues this may be grounds for extinguishing you contract with your Realtor and acquiring a new Realtor©.

    Terry Kraemer
    Prudential Gary Greene Realtors©
    1969 W. Gray St Ste 100, Houston, TX. 77018

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