As the old saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. But if you are a consumer using one of the national real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, Redfin or Realtor.com to find a home, not only are you missing out on a gourmet breakfast, you are actually paying through the nose to go hungry!
As agents, we get requests all the time to "check out" properties that prospective clients have found on one or all of the sites above. They have just spent hours upon hours perusing the web looking for the right deal.
What the average buyer fails to realize is that these 3rd party national sites only get updated every five to seven days!
This means that even in a "buyer's market," by the time the best deals are listed on the national sites, they are already under contract. In a competitive seller's market like most areas of the country are now experiencing, even a delay of literally minutes can mean it's too late to put an offer in and cost thousands of dollars. The Las Vegas real estate market has had almost a 5% price increase over the past month. Consumers that wasted a month looking for a home on the national sites during that time can now expect to pay $10k more for a home in the $200k price range. Not to mention the countless wasted hours.
So why do buyers use these national real estate sites?
The name brand recognition that comes from massive billion dollar TV advertising campaigns and expensive search engine marketing that the local sites can't compete with.
Plus it looks like the national sites have a lot more listings than the local real estate sites, so consumers feel like they are being offered more "choices." But the national sites include the contingent or "under contract" listings as well as those that are actually still available to bid on. In many cases, under contract properties make up two thirds to almost three quarters of the listings on the national sites!
Don't get me wrong, if you are just trying to get a general feel for prices in different areas of the country, the national sites make it easy to compare more than one real estate market on the same site.
But if you are actually serious about shopping online for a home, find an experienced local agent with a great local web site that is updated at least daily and does not include "contingent" listings on their site. Better yet, have that agent set you up to receive properties through the MLS the exact instant they hit the market so you have a decent shot at a purchase.
Another hint - don't use an agent that comes recommended as a "local expert" by one of the national sites. That agent that is paying a hefty monthly fee to the national site to be proclaimed a local expert, whether they are or not. In most cases, well established Realtors will NOT have to pay to be called a "local expert."
Team Leader, The Tonnesen Team
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Nevada
3185 St Rose Pkwy #100 Henderson, NV 89052
With over 30 years of experience helping families call Las Vegas "home!"