Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Then and today

Panama City Realtor
Ten years ago, a search for real estate might have started in the office of an local real estate agent or by simply driving around town. In the agent’s office, you’ll spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend several weeks touring each property unless you found the right one. Finding market data so you can assess the asking price would harder and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find every one of the information you needed to obtain really comfortable with a reasonable market value.

Panama City Homes For Sale
Today, most property searches start the Internet. A quick keyword explore Google by location may get you thousands of results. In case you spot a property of curiosity on a real estate website, you can typically view photos web maybe even take a virtual tour. You may then check other Internet sites, such as the local county assessor, with an idea of the property’s value, see what the current owner taken care of the property, check the real-estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without having to leave your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, with them properly can be a challenge due to the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. During writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 Websites. Even a neighborhood specific seek out real estate can easily return a large number of Web sites. With so many resources online how can an investor effectively utilize them without getting over-involved or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Surprisingly, understanding how the business of real-estate works offline makes it simpler to understand online real-estate information and strategies.

The process of Real Estate

Real estate is normally bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly through the owner. The vast majority is dealt with through real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to refer to the same professional.) Simply because their real estate experience and knowledge and, at least historically, their exclusive entry to a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the best way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). Generally, only properties listed by member real estate professionals can be added to an MLS. The main purpose of an MLS is to enable the member realtors to make offers of compensation along with other member agents should they find a buyer for the property.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing in the MLS information towards the public; times change. Today, most MLS facts are directly accessible to the population over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings may also be displayed online but aggregated commercial property info is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS nevertheless the agents adding the listings towards the database are not required to offer any specific sort of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside of the CIE.

In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which can be typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database could make these properties harder to locate. Traditionally, these properties are simply by driving around or trying to find ads in the local newspaper’s real estate property listings. A more efficient approach to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is always to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

Just what is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms realtor and REALTOR are widely-used interchangeably; however, they are not exactly the same. A REALTOR is a licensed agent who is also a part of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are needed to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.

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

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Internet sites, and most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information shown on them. Another reason is the fact that there are many non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real-estate 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 property information to the Internet definitely makes all the information more accessible and 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 from your MLS or CIE. However, those property listings usually do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the world wide web is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are normally disseminated for visible on many different Web sites. For instance, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site,, also to the local real estate agent’s Web site. In addition, the listing may be displayed on the Web site of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another type of marketing offered by today’s agent, but it has a much broader reach as opposed to old print advertising.

Along with Internet marketing, listing agents may also be helpful the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of interested buyers and will be offering, negotiate the contract which help with closing. When a representative provides all of these services it can be referred to as being a complete listing arrangement. While complete listing arrangements would be the most common type of listing arrangement, they aren’t the only option anymore.

Modifications in the technology behind the property business have caused many agents to improve the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the instant access most consumers will have to property listings as well as other real estate information. Furthermore, the Internet and other technologies have automated a lot of the marketing and initial searching process for real estate. For example, consumers can watch properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers will use automated programs for you listings to people who match their property criteria. So, some agents are now limiting the services they offer and change their fees accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the property in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. Down the road, some real estate agents may offer services in more of the ala carte fashion.

Due to the volume of real estate information on the Internet, when people engage a real estate agent today they ought to look at the particular services provided by the agent and also the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. Go for longer just about usage of property listing information. Sellers and buyers historically found agents by referrals from family and friends. The Internet now provides solutions to directly find qualified agents or research the biography associated with an agent referred to you offline. One particular site,, is easily becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this site a real estate agent can personalize their profile, begin a blog, post pics and vids and even create a link to their web site at no cost. Once unique content is added to their profile page the various search engines notice!

Some have argued how the Internet makes REALTORS along with the MLS less relevant. The world thinks this will be false over time. It may change the role with the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than in the past. In fact, the number of agents has risen significantly recently. No wonder, the Internet has produced local real estate a universal business. Besides, Internet or otherwise, the simple fact remains the purchase of real property could be the largest single purchase a lot of people make in their life (or, for a lot of investors, the largest multiple purchases on the lifetime) and they want expert help. Are you aware that MLS, it continues to be most reliable source of property listing and sold information available and will continue to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what’s the function of all the online real estate information?

Online real-estate information is a great research tool for buyers and sellers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used properly, buyers can conserve time by quickly researching properties and, ultimately, make better investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently research the market and make informed decisions about employing an agent and marketing their properties online. The next step is to know where to search the web for some of the best resources.
Internet Strategies

Within the sections that follow, you can expect strategies and tips on how to use the Internet to locate properties for sale and research information tightly related to your decision to purchase the home. There are many real estate Internet sites from which to choose and although and we don’t mean to endorse any particular Web site, we have found the ones right here to be good resources in most cases or to be so popular that they need mention. A great way to test a Web site’s accuracy is usually to search for information about a house you already own.

Finding Real estate property for Sale

Despite the widely available access to real estate listings, many think that MLS databases continue to offer the most complete and accurate source of real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute content to other Web sites (primarily run by real estate agents). An excellent starting point for MLS originated submissions are the national NAR Web site,, which is also the most popular web site for searching property listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs have an agreement with to show off much of their active listing inventory.

Some local and regional MLS systems furthermore have a publicly accessible Site. However, to get complete information you may most likely still need to look for a qualified local REALTOR. Many local realtors will also provide their customers (via email) new listings which are input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This is helpful to a busy buyer.

There’s also many Web sites that display both agent listed and for-sale-by-owner properties. Many of the more popular Web sites include and Web sites offer other services too. For example, is best famous for its instantaneous property valuation function and for providing historical information. Another supply of properties for sale is the state, regional, and native Web sites associated with brokerage companies; as an example, or Search engines like and classified advertising sites like in addition have a large number of active real estate property listings.

One key among these sites is how many details you can access anonymously. For example, at you are able to shop anonymously up to a point but you will need to click through towards the agent’s Web site for more info. Many new real estate property search engines allow you to dig through listings without having to complete a form. The best method is to browse a number of the sites listed above to locate geographic areas or price ranges that are interesting. When you are serious about a property, then that is the time to find a qualified REALTOR of your choosing to conduct a complete search in the local MLS.

What’s more, it never hurts to find the old-fashioned way by driving over the neighborhoods that appeal to you. There is no substitute for physically, not virtually, walking the block if you are making a serious financial investment. In this sense, property is still a very someone’s place of business and standing in front from the property can lead to a much different decision than viewing an internet page printout.

Valuing Property

As we mentioned, just about the most popular real estate tools is’s instant property valuation. Just type an address and in and you also get a property value. It even charts the price good and the bad, and shows the final date sold (including price) along with the property taxes. There are other sites that provide similar tools such as and Unfortunately, a lot of people use these estimated values alone to justify sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, they are only rough estimates according to a formula that incorporates the local county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly over the short period of time and do not seem to always track actual market changes, that are normally more gradual. Furthermore, these estimates usually do not automatically take into account property remodels or renovations or another property specific or local changes. It’s not to say these sites aren’t useful. In fact, these are great starting points which enable it to provide a good ball-park value oftentimes.

When it comes to getting a more accurate value for a particular property, there are additional strategies that are more trustworthy. The first is to go directly to your county’s Website. More often than not the county assessor’s portion of the Web site provides sales and tax information for all properties in the county. If you need to research a particular property or compare sales prices of comparable properties, the neighborhood assessor’s sites are really helpful. Whenever you visit a county’s Web site you get information straight from the source. Most counties today publish property information about their Web sites. Many times you may cannot only see the price a previous owner paid, though the assessed value, property taxes, and maps. Some county assessors are now adding a market and property valuation tools too.

Because of the importance of valuation to investing, we’re also going to remind you of the two most important (non-Internet) valuation methods: agents and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient method of getting value information to get a property. While most significant purposes of the MLS is always to market the active property listings of its members, the system also collects sales information for all those listings. REALTOR members are able to pull this sales information and convey comparable market analyses (also known as CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of the particular property’s value for that market in a particular area.

Finally, essentially the most accurate way to value home is by having a certified appraiser provide an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review the two sold information within the MLS system along with county information after which analyze the information to produce a valuation for the property determined by one or more approved types of valuation. These methods of valuation normally include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for differences between your properties, determine the price to replace the property, or, with the income producing property, determine a worth based on the income generated from the property.

The Neighborhood

There are numerous ways the Internet can assist you get the scoop on a particular neighborhood. For instance, census data are available at You can also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like or review local blogs. Your site is a Web site where people discuss topics by posting and giving an answer to messages. Start by taking a look at and to get a directory of blogs. features a “Heat Map” that shows how cold or hot each neighborhood is dependant on prices, sales, or popularity one of the sites users.


In relation to selling residential property or rental properties that serve families, the quality of the location school district is really a huge difference. There are many Websites devoted to school information. Have a look at or Most local school districts have their own Web site. Web sites contain a variety of specifics of the public schools along with the school district, including its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.

Determing the best Real Estate Agent

A recent accessory the Internet boom in solid estate information is Sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and local knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially networking with blogs. You can search to find an agent which has a particular expertise, geographic part of specialization, or an agent offering specific services. The site lets users efficiently find an agent with the appropriate expertise using keyword searches and and also simple agent profiles. also enables agents to post personalized blogs, pics and vids to help consumers locate the best agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles include a direct link to the agent’s internet site where you will likely find the local MLS listings.

Maps and also other Tools

The Internet has made mapping and locating properties much simpler. To get an aerial view or satellite picture of a property or neighborhood, head to or or visit to see how walk-able a particular property is. These sites can give you a perception of the neighborhood characteristics along with the types of entertainment, restaurants, and other facilities that are within easy reach of the property. supplies a view at an angle in order to see the sides of homes and Maps.Google even provides you with a 360 degree street-level view for several neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these simple satellite map Web sites, you really should if only for amusement.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

The web is a very effective research and marketing strategy for real estate investors however is not a replacement for a knowledgeable experienced real estate agent. The Internet can save you time and money by enabling quick and easy property research and marketing options. Sites like also aid you efficiently locate a REALTOR who fits your buying or selling needs.

Always remember, in relation to Internet strategies for real-estate: More knowledge is way better. You need to use the Internet to create your knowledge base on a target property as well as to find a real estate agent with expertise you may need. However, the big caution this is that the Internet shouldn’t replace human judgment and perspective, expert advice or physical due diligence-keys to successful investing.