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Online Real Estate Listings are Stale

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 Washingtonpost.com 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 Homesdatabase.com 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. 🙂