Real estate agents and the Internet – How to buy and sell a property today

So now

Ten years ago, searching for a real estate property would have started in the offices of a local real estate agent or simply driving in town. In the agent&39;s office, you would spend an afternoon browsing the pages of the active Multiple Listing Service (MLS) property listings. After choosing the properties that interest you, you will spend many weeks visiting each property until you find the right one. Finding market data that allows you to estimate the asking price would take more time and lead to a lot more driving, and you might not be able to find all the information you needed to really feel at home. with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick Google search by keyword will get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate website, you can usually view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then visit other websites, such as the local county appraiser, to get an idea of ​​the value of the property, see what the current owner has paid for the property, check the property taxes , get census data, school information, and even check which stores are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

Although Internet resources are practical and useful, their correct use can be difficult because of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying their accuracy. At the time of writing, 2,670,000 websites have been accessed. Even a neighborhood-specific real estate search can easily return thousands of websites. With so many resources online, how does an investor use them effectively without getting bogged down or ending up with incomplete or erroneous information? Believe it or not, understanding the offline operation of the real estate industry makes it easier to understand real estate information and strategies online.

Real estate business

Real estate is usually purchased and sold either through a chartered real estate agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use the terms "agent" and "broker" to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their knowledge and experience in real estate and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database. assets for sale. Accessing this database of property listings is the most effective way to search for properties.

MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, property and lower income properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multi-list service (MLS). In most cases, only the properties listed by the member real estate agents can be added to an MLS system. The main purpose of an MLS is to allow member real estate agents to offer offsets to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

These objectives did not include the ability to directly publish MLS information to the public; the weather changes. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public on the Internet in different forms.

Commercial property listings are also posted online, but aggregated information on commercial properties is more difficult to pin down. Larger MLSs often exploit a trade information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS but agents who add lists to the database are not required to offer a specific type of compensation to other members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

In most cases, the properties for sale by the owner can not be directly added to an MLS or CIE, which are generally managed by broker associations. The lack of a centralized managed database can make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving or looking for ads in the real estate listings of the local newspaper. A more efficient way of locating properties for sale by owner is to search for a website for sale by owner in the geographic area.

What&39;s a real estate agent? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and real estate agent are used interchangeably; However, they are not the same. A real estate agent is a chartered real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS. REALTORS AGENTS are required to comply with a code of ethics and strict conduct.

Information on MLS and CIE properties was traditionally available only in hard copy and, as we mentioned, only accessible directly to real estate agents members of an MLS or a CIE . About ten years ago, this valuable property information began to spread on the Internet. This net is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the nearly 1 million REALTORS have websites and most of these websites display varying amounts of information about local MLS or CIE properties. Another reason is that many websites that do not offer real estate agents also offer real estate information, including sites for sale by the owner, foreclosure sites, regional and international SEO sites county appraisers, as well as valuation and market information. sites. The flow of real estate information on the Internet makes information more accessible, but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real estate agents

Despite the flow of real estate information on the Internet, most properties are still sold directly through real estate agents listing properties in the MLS or local CIE. However, these property lists are no longer local. By its nature, the Internet is a global market and local MLS and CIE listings are normally broadcast for display on many websites. For example, many go to the website of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS, and on the website of the local real estate agent. In addition, the list can be posted on the website of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another form of marketing offered by today&39;s real estate agent, but its reach is much broader than that of old print advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents can also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of offers and interested buyers, negotiate the contract and assist in closing. When an agent provides all these services, we are talking about a complete service list system. Although full service agreements are the most common type of arrangement, they are no longer the only option.

Technological changes in the real estate sector have led many agents to change the way they work. In large part, this is due to the instant access that most consumers now have to the list of properties and other information about real estate. In addition, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the initial real estate marketing and research process. For example, consumers can view properties online and request information via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send consumers lists that meet their ownership criteria. Thus, some agents now limit the services they offer and modify their fees accordingly. An agent may propose to advertise the property in MLS but provide only limited additional services. In the future, some real estate agents could offer more à la carte services.

Due to the volume of real estate information on the Internet, people who are hiring a realtor today have to consider the particular services offered by the agent and the depth of their experience and knowledge in the sector. real estate concerned. It&39;s not just about accessing property information. Buyers and sellers have historically found agents through references from friends and family members. The Internet now offers ways to directly find qualified agents or search the biography of an agent referred to you offline. One of these sites,, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook site of Realtors. On this site, an agent can personalize his profile, create a blog, post photos and videos and even create a free link to his website. Once unique content is added to their profile page, search engines notice it!

Some have argued that the Internet makes real estate agents and MLS less relevant. We believe this will be wrong in the long run. This may change the role of the agent but will make real estate agents knowledgeable, skilled and professional more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has increased significantly in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has made local real estate a global business. In addition, whether or not it is the Internet, the fact remains that the purchase of real estate is the most important purchase that most people make in their lives (or, for many investors, the most important multiple purchase of their lives) and seek the help of an expert. As for MLS, it remains the most reliable source of real estate listings and information sold available and continues to allow the effective marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all real estate information online?

Online real estate information is an excellent search tool for buyers and sellers, as well as a marketing tool for sellers. When they are used properly, buyers can save time by quickly searching for properties and ultimately making better investment decisions. Salespeople can perform effective research in the market and make informed decisions regarding the recruitment of an agent and the online marketing of their properties. The next step is knowing where to look online for some of the best resources.
Internet Strategies

In the following sections, we provide strategies and tips on how to use the Internet to locate the properties for sale and on the relevant search information for your decision to buy the property. There are many real estate web sites to choose from and although we did not intend to approve a particular website in any way, we found that the ones listed here were good resources in most cases or were so popular that They deserved to be mentioned. One way to test the accuracy of a website is to search for information about a property you already own.

Find a property for sale

Despite widely available access to real estate listings, many believe that MLS databases continue to offer the most complete and accurate source of real estate information. Most MLS now distribute content on other websites (operated primarily by real estate agents). The national NAR website,, is also a great starting point for content created by MLS. It is also the most popular website for searching real estate listings. Virtually all local and regional MLS have an agreement with to display a large portion of their active listing inventory.

Some local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible website. However, to get complete information, you will probably still need to find a qualified local real estate agent. Many local real estate agents will also provide their clients (via email) with new listings that will be entered into the MLS and match their pre-defined criteria. This can be very useful for a busy buyer.

There are also many websites that display both properties listed by real estate agents and properties for sale by the owner. and are among the most popular websites. These sites also offer other services. For example, is best known for its instant property evaluation feature and for its historical information. State-owned, regional and local websites associated with brokerage firms are another source of property for sale. for example, or Search engines such as and classified ad sites such as also have a large number of active real estate listings.

An essential difference between these sites is the amount of information that you can access anonymously. For example, on, you can make purchases anonymously up to a certain point, but then you will need to click on the agent&39;s website for more information. Many new real estate search engines allow you to sift ads without having to fill out a form. The best strategy is to browse through some of the sites listed above to find interesting geographic areas or price ranges. Once you&39;re serious about a property, it&39;s time to find a qualified real estate agent of your choice to complete a search in the local MLS.

In addition, it&39;s never a bad idea to look old-fashioned by browsing the neighborhoods that interest you. Nothing can replace physically, and not virtually, not when you make a serious investment decision. In this sense, real estate is still a very local activity and standing in front of the building can give rise to a decision very different from that of posting a printed web page.

Valuing the real estate

As we have mentioned, one of the most popular real estate tools is the instant valuation of the property. Just type an address and you get a property value. It even indicates price fluctuations and indicates the last date of sale (including price) and property taxes. There are other sites offering similar tools, such as and Unfortunately, many people only use these estimated values ​​to justify selling prices, offers and counter-offers. However, it is only approximate estimates based on a formula that incorporates local county sales information. These estimates can fluctuate dramatically over a short period of time and do not always seem to follow actual market developments, which are normally more gradual. In addition, these estimates do not automatically take into account property renovations or renovations, or other local or property-specific changes. This does not mean that these sites are not useful. In fact, they are excellent starting points and can often be a safe bet.

To get a more accurate value for a particular property, there are other more reliable strategies. One is to go directly to your country&39;s website. Most often, the county&39;s evaluation area of ​​the website provides information on sales and taxes for all county properties. If you want to search for a particular property or compare selling prices for comparable properties, the sites of local appraisers are really helpful. When you visit a county&39;s website, you get information directly from the source. Today, most counties publish property information on their websites. Many times, you can not only see the price paid by a previous owner, but also the taxable value, property taxes and cards. Some county appraisers have also added a market and property appraisal tool.

Given the importance of valuation for investing, we will also remind you of the two most important valuation methods (excluding the Internet): real estate agents and appraisers. Working with a local real estate agent is a precise and effective way to get information about the values ​​of a property. Although one of the main objectives of MLS is to market the active property listings of its members, the system also collects information on the sales of these listings. REALTOR® members can extract this sales information and produce comparable market analyzes (sometimes referred to as CMAs) that provide excellent insight into the value of a particular property for the market in a given region.

Finally, the most accurate way to value a property is to entrust an assessment to a chartered appraiser. An appraiser typically reviews the information sold in the MLS system as well as county information and then analyzes it to produce an assessment of the property based on one or more approved appraisal methods. These valuation methods may include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for property differences, determining the cost of replacing the property or, with a property generating income, determining a value based on the income generated from the property.

The neighborhood

The Internet can help you in different ways to get the scoop on a particular neighborhood. For example, census data can be found at You can also view neighborhood information on sites such as or check local blogs. A blog is a website where people discuss topics by posting and responding to messages. Start by looking at and for a blog directory. has a "Heat Map" that shows how hot or cold your neighborhood is based on price, sales, or popularity of site users.


When it comes to selling family-friendly residential or rental properties, the quality of the school district in the area makes all the difference. There are many websites devoted to school information. Check out or Most school districts also have their own website. These sites contain various information about public schools and the school district, including demographic information, test scores, and parent assessments.

Find the right real estate agent

Websites that allow real estate agents to market their local expertise and knowledge by posting their professional profiles and establishing a social network with blogs have recently been added to the Internet boom of real estate information. You can search for an agent with expertise, a geographic area of ​​specialization, or an agent with specific services. The website allows users to quickly and easily find an agent with the right skills by using keyword searches and clean and simple agent profiles. also allows agents to publish personalized blogs, photos, and videos to help consumers find the best agent for their needs. In addition, many agent profiles include a direct link to the agent&39;s website where you will likely find local MLS listings.

Maps and other tools

The Internet has greatly facilitated the mapping and location of properties. To get an aerial view or a satellite image of a property or neighborhood, go to or or visit to see how accessible a property is walk. These sites can give you an idea of ​​the neighborhood features and types of entertainment, restaurants and other facilities within walking distance of the property. provides an angled view so you can see the sides of the houses and Maps.Google even gives you a 360 degree view at street level for some neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these websites, you should do it, if only to keep you entertained.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

Internet is a very effective search and marketing tool for real estate investors but does not replace an experienced and knowledgeable real estate professional. The internet can save you time and money by allowing quick and easy searches on property and marketing options. Sites like also help you find a real estate agent that meets your buying or selling needs.

Always remember, when it comes to Internet strategies for real estate: More knowledge, better it is. You must use the Internet to create your knowledge base on a target property or to find a real estate agent with the expertise you need. However, great caution is to not replace the Internet with the judgment and the human point of view, by the expert advice or due diligence – key to successful investments.