The Internet and Real Estate
When I first moved to Columbia in 1973, no private home had Internet access. On a training trip to SUNY at Syracuse, NY the students there were thrilled to show me the Internet and how they could get information from the University of Heidelberg in Germany using the Archie and Veronica programs. The information returned was all pica font text documents. To find a home you looked at Newspaper advertisement after newspaper advertisement. There was no map information and little community information available for the potential home buyer.
My how have things changed. The National Board of Realtors (NAR) reports that in 1995 a few home buyers started getting their information from the Internet. In 2001 about 40% of home buyers got information from newspapers and about 40% from the Internet. NAR reported in 2005 that around 80% of home buyers used the Internet and the percentage from the Newspapers remained at about 50%.
The local Realtor ® television and newsprint advertising provides prospective home buyers little useful information. It is all directed at getting a prospective home buyer to call the Realtor ®. In this case similar to an IE tool bar the Realtor ® acts as a gatekeeper to the information that a prospective home buyer wants to see. They filter the information from the single data base used by all Realtors ®, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and then provide it to the client. That works well for some people.
Today there are a variety of Real Estate web sites including NewToTheMarket.com , JustListed.com, HouseValues.com, and Zillow.com. Some lender sites like DiTech.com, Greenlight.com, and ELOAN.com also have a real estate focus. Similar to newspaper and TV advertising the Real Estate only sites provide some useful but limited information. They also link you up with a Realtor ® that like an old traditional Realtors ® filters your access to the MLS data base. While this is helpful and a step in the right direction, it is not radically changing how people buy and sell their homes. The only source for accurate information is the MLS data base that all Realtors ® use to provide information homes to clients. The Realtors ® referred to buyers and sellers still filter the data from the MLS data base for their clients.
A significant change has been happening over the last few years. New Internet centric Real Estate companies are providing buyers and sellers direct access to MLS data that is up to the minute accurate. Zip Realty (ZipRealty.com) is one of those companies. Zip maintains a database paralleling and updated by the MLS database. Home buyers and sellers can search this database filtering information on their own criteria. Home buyers and sellers now control access to the information they seek.
Behind the web site is a licensed Realtor ® assigned to help both buyers and sellers use the site. The assigned Realtor ® can take web site registrants to visit homes and complete purchase or sale transactions for them as the customer specifies. In this case the home buyer or seller is in complete control of the purchase or sale process. The behind the site Realtor ® can provide added information like a link to the Howard County web site providing the county published information on most all addresses in Howard county. This site is: http://maps.co.ho.md.us/PublicGIS/Neighborhood.asp. Put in your address and see what you find? This is one of the best county web sites that I have seen.
This revolution in Real Estate puts the customer in control of the Real Estate purchase or sale process not an agent. The agent assists or helps the client. The agent augments but does not filter the information in the MLS data base used by everybody buying or selling Real Estate. With all this said, I must also say that I recently started working for Zip Realty. However, please try all these sites identified here and make your own assessment as to the accuracy of what I have presented.
If you are planning to buy or sell your home, I hope this is helpful. Enjoy!
Link to Wikipedia
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