Then and Now

Ten decades ago, a search for property would have begun in the office of a local realtor or by simply driving around town. In the agent’s office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the regional Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After picking properties of interest, you’d spend many weeks vacationing every property before you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all of the information that you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches begin on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by place will likely get you tens of thousands of results. Should you spot a property of attention on a property web site, you can normally view photos online and perhaps even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to obtain an notion of their property’s worth, see what the current owner paid for the property, check the actual estate taxation, get census data, school information, and check out what stores are within walking distance-all without leaving your property!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and beneficial, using them properly can be a challenge because of the volume of information and also the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a look of”Ritz Carlton Sunny Isles prices” returned 2,670,000 Web websites. Even a neighborhood search for property can easily return tens of thousands of Web websites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad info? Believe it or not, knowing how the business of property works offline makes it a lot easier to comprehend online property info and strategies.

Real estate is typically purchased and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly from the owner. The huge majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. This is due to their property knowledge and expertise and, at least , their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings supplied the most effective method to look for properties.

The database of residential, property, and smaller income producing properties (such as some business properties) is generally known as a multiple listing service (MLS). Typically, just properties listed by member real estate agents could be added to an MLS. The main purpose of an MLS is to enable the member property brokers to make offers of compensation to other member brokers should they find a buyer for a home.

This purposes didn’t include allowing the immediate publishing of their MLS data to the general public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the general public across the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial real estate listings are also displayed online but aggregated business real estate information is more evasive. Bigger MLSs frequently operate a commercial data exchange (CIE). A CIE is comparable to an MLS however, the brokers adding the listings into the database aren’t required to offer any specific type of compensation to another members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

Typically, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which can be generally maintained by REALTOR associations. The deficiency of a handled centralized database may make these properties more challenging to locate. Traditionally, these properties can be located by driving around or searching for ads in the local paper’s property listings. A more efficient method to locate for-sale-by-owner properties would be to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographical area.

Sometimes the terms real estate broker and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who’s also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are needed to obey a strict code of ethics and behavior.

MLS and CIE property record data was historically only available in hard copy, as we mentioned, just directly available to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About ten decades ago, this invaluable property information started to trickle out into the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million roughly REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Web sites have varying amounts of their local MLS or CIE property data displayed on these. Another reason is that there are many non-real estate agent Web sites which also offer you real estate info, such as, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and global list websites, County assessor sites, and evaluation and market information sites. The deluge of property information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misuse and misunderstanding.