It is 10 o’clock; do you know where your listings are?
After moving to a new real estate company a few weeks ago I had to update my profiles, which are scattered all over the Internet. It forced me to review my online presence. It took some time, but I learned a few things in the process.
There are a number of national real estate Web sites where property listings information can be advertised. Some are also social networks where we can interact with buyers and sellers if we choose to do so.
The sites are beautiful and have more to offer consumers than the Web sites created by real estate brokerage companies or by the National Association of Realtors. However, the information on the sites is not always accurate or up to date.
I went to one of the sites I am using and clicked a button to have my listings put in. I ended up with two of my listings, one of which was sold a month ago. It shows up as a sold listing in our multiple listing service — I checked. Another listing showed up that is also off the market. My active listings did not show up.
On another site I checked my listings and noted that one had the wrong price. When I tried to do a manual update, it failed. Often when I change prices I spend hours updating Web sites, and to be honest I sometimes miss a site or two.
On yet another site I found my listings, but the same property is listed with two different prices and under two different brokerages. We have laws here that prevent one agent from working under two brokers, but that is a separate issue.
After checking one of the Web sites I was so discouraged by what I found and my inability to put my new logo in my profile that I decided to delete the account. I contacted technical support a couple of days ago asking for help because I can’t even delete it.
The reason I advertise my listings on these sites is because my competitors advertise on them and my clients expect it. I know that the listings get some traffic but nothing close to what they get through our MLS and through my own sites. …CONTINUED
The sites themselves get more visitors than mine does because they cover the entire country — my sites are local. These sites are all pretty new, too, and I like to experiment, explore and learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Internet marketing.
I don’t understand how consumers can be served on these Web sites if the information about properties for sale is inaccurate. Most of the sites do not have all of the local listings, so when homebuyers search they do not have access to all of the properties that might fit their needs. They may, however, find the same home listed twice for two different amounts.
Consumers use these sites because they are fun and easy to use. They are gorgeous, especially when I compare them to the standard broker site. They have colorful interactive maps and extensive data. If I were shopping for real estate I would be looking at these sites, too.
Buyers contact me when they find the same listing on two different sites with two different prices. They sometimes ask why they can find a home on one site but not on another. We confuse homebuyers — they don’t understand that our local Realtor and brokerage sites carry the most complete assortment of listings because they get data feeds directly from the MLS.
The people who run our MLS state that the data is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. They check for data integrity and constantly run checks to see if Realtors are following the rules so that the data can be reliable.
I have pulled my listings off of the sites where I have to manually change the price and where the listings are not displayed correctly or in a manner that I like. It is listings that keep these sites going. They keep a few businesses going, but they belong to the agents and we need to have some control.
With our MLS we have rules and as a Realtor I am fined if I do not follow them. I can lose my license or be fined for the same type of violations I am finding on these sites, like listing a property under my name and brokerage that is not on the market.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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