Make Effective Use of the Internet
Want to know what you can buy for $300,000 in Ohio, or in Idaho? Want to know what the homes cost in the area down the road, or whether you can afford to buy a second home in Mammoth or Hawaii? It’s easy - we just go online and take a look at what is available. Go to Realtor.com, MLS Listings, or Google - and those are but a few of the many sites where you can find property on the Internet.
Yes, the Internet has changed the real estate field along with many other fields. Having been in this business since 1974, I have seen many changes come to my profession. The first assistant I hired spent the majority of her time manually sorting and collating the new property listings, then putting them in a loose leaf notebook, and hand writing the price changes onto the pages twice a week. Now we can be updated moment-by-moment on properties anywhere in the world with a click of the mouse. Internet access and exposure has truly changed the way we, as Brokers and Agents, are able to assist Buyers and Sellers meet their real estate goals.
As a Seller, you are now able to easily gain global exposure of your property. Your agent can place your property on a number of sites that are accessed by people all over the world. Your property can have a full exposure with a virtual tour of the inside and outside of the property. You can go online and look at your competition and see how they are being marketed or promoted to see how you compare.
As a Buyer, you can explore many areas and communities on line to determine where you would like to live. You can access community, school, and other information easily. You can compare prices, or other attributes over a very wide geographic area in a very short time.
One of my clients did this and much to my surprise, ended up in a wonderful area in Georgia, near an international airport (one of their requirements), and in a community where my sister lives.
The thing that the Internet cannot give you is the nuances you may not be able to see of a particular property. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, it may also be selective. For example, you may not be able to see that the property is located next to a highway or a noisy commercial center. The great news is that the Internet can help both you and your agent make the process of buying or selling a home more effective by weeding out the homes that obviously don’t meet your needs.
The Internet offers may other services, but be careful. I have personally witnessed some disasters by clients who used the Internet as their only source of information. More than one of my clients used an online lender who had great rates until the 11th hour; when the rates changed, they delayed the closing at a cost to the buyer, or they couldn’t actually make the loan because they didn’t understand local situations, such as abandoned CalTrans easements. I have also seen clients get tied up with a bogus mold inspector from out of the area, obtained from the Internet, at great cost and inconvenience to both the Buyer and Seller.
The best use of the Internet is to do general research, expand your knowledge, and enhance your marketing. Don’t forget that there is still no substitute for an experienced, knowledgeable agent who knows the area; and nothing substitutes for a good direct agent referral from someone you know and trust. Combine the Internet with a good agent and you have the best of all worlds.