Online DisplaySome say that big and national are the way to go when searching real estate.  Just how complete and accurate are the national site real estate web-sites? There are a number of reasons why the big box sites just can’t compete with local knowledge.

Bigger and more is always better, right?  Not necessarily.  I can only speak to our area of southwest Florida but I have noticed that many more properties appear for sale on the big box sites than are actually for sale in our local multiple list system (MLS).

Considering the MLS is where it all starts, how can that be?

The national websites understand that the consumer wants to see it all.  It is easy to depend upon a site that displays 400-500 properties for sale in a certain area when other sites only display two thirds as much. The dirty little secret is that some sites continue to display properties for sale long after they are under contract or even sold.  That keeps the numbers up and the buyers coming back.   Often, I must tell an inquiring buyer that the property they are interested in was sold …. last week or even last month.  I can hear the disappointment in their voice.

Buyers often seek out and rely on the national sites because of that little number in a corner of the listing …. That’s the E-estimated value.  National sites purport to deliver an accurate estimated value for every property displayed.  That valuation is often backed up with impressive charts and graphs.  It’s simple and easy to rely upon that number. Buyers should understand that website valuations are usually computer generated and do not take into account that possible highway view, the trashy home next door, the new commercial development planned in the back yard or other local market conditions.  Subjective factors like condition, location, view and market trends can make a big difference in value.  I have seen 50-100% differences between the eventual sale price and the estimated value displayed. My advice is to take the box site estimated value into account but rely more closely upon the valuation of a competent local real estate agent.

Unless you are the type to make a snap decision, you will want the help of a competent local agent.  Your local real estate agent knows the territory, the neighborhoods and values.  I know that if I went to your neighborhood, in your home town, to buy a property, I would have no idea what was a good value.  An agent that is a member of the National Association of Realtors© subscribes to a strict Realtor Code of Ethics, and that is a real plus.  Always involve the services of a local Realtor© in your buying decision.

With your agent’s input, you will soon learn the local market and be able to make an informed choice.