By Peter Ricci
NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers taught us many things, but perhaps the most notable was the continuing domination of the Internet in the home searching process. Ninety percent of homebuyers, we found, now use the Internet in their home search, while 96 percent of prospective homebuyers aged 44 or under go to the Web for their initial search.
Undoubtedly, syndication sites, such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, are generating a huge chunk of that traffic, and though syndication has its benefits, there are drawbacks to such sites being the sole source of information on properties. So with that in mind, here are three important things that syndication sites will not tell your clients.
Syndication Sites and Information – An Uneasy Alliance
Unsurprisingly, the main issues with the syndication sites deal with information, and what listings on those sites do not tell your clients:
1. If the property has already sold – Probably the biggest inconsistency with syndication sites is whether the property has sold or not. According to a study by The WAV Group (and sponsored by Redfin), 36 percent of the active listings on Zillow and Trulia were no longer for sale, a discrepancy so large that it inspired a brand new real estate association, NAREP, that aims to improve accuracy in online listings.
2. If the price is still accurate – All agents try to price their listings as accurately as they can, but price reductions have unfortunately been common in the post-boom housing market – except, those price reductions may not always be reflected in the listing on syndication sites. This is particularly important, as AnnaMaria Andriotis wrote on MarketWatch, with short sales; sure, a short sale may have a great price on Zillow, but if the lender has not been consulted on the price, it has little chance of holding firm.
3. If the info is correct – Syndication sites are making a serious effort to import their listing information from local MLS’s to ensure the listing’s accuracy, but your clients should still view the home’s photos, descriptions and time on market with a skeptical eye, as one or all could stray from reality.
Don’t get us wrong – syndication sites are a great way to advertise your property to a wide range of customers, and many an agent has found great success using them. Make sure your clients realize, though, that they should not accept the sites’ info as the gospel.