Find Me a House Online: Realtor’s Perspective

Posted by Kelly Todd on August 23, 2013  |   No Comments »

Searching the internet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find Me a House Online: Realtor’s Perspective

It’s a fact. When someone is looking for a new home, they go online first. But with so many resources and so much conflicting information out there, it can be tough to know where to start besides just Googling “find me a house online.” From a Realtor’s perspective, if I were a non-Realtor in the market for a new home — starting from scratch — here’s how I would approach the online search in Indianapolis.

Step 1. 

Talk to a friend. If you’re not familiar with Indianapolis’s many neighborhoods, ask your friends for their thoughts on where to live. You never know who they know or what they know, so ask people you know and trust before you take your search online. (Google is not a friend, but you can count Mark Zuckerberg as a friend if you’re contacting real friends via Facebook.)

Step 2. 

Once you’ve narrowed in on an area that seems to fit your needs, Google the name of that neighborhood (e.g. Meridian Kessler, South Broad Ripple, Meridian Hills, etc.) to learn more about what it has to offer. Look for features such as restaurants, shopping and schools. Narrow your search to one or two neighborhoods, or a general area of the city.

Step 3. 

Now you can really search online! Here are four search tools to consider.

TALKTOTUCKER.COM

Most people who live in Indiana are familiar with several real estate brokerages. For the purposes of this post, let’s talk about F.C. Tucker. I’m certainly most familiar with this site and honestly, I think it is the best around. Pull up TalkToTucker.com and begin your search.

Pros

Tucker’s website is fabulous for many reasons. Here are a few.

MIBOR Data // Tucker’s website is unequivocally accurate. The data comes directly from MIBOR (Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors), pulling data three times a day to provide the most up-to-date information to our customers.

Status Checks // On TalkToTucker.com, you can easily tell if homes are pending, active or even if they have an open house scheduled. When you a view a home and it shows that it is “active,” that home is actually available for sale.

Search Ease // You can search by neighborhood or school district, and the site actually provides homes in that neighborhood.

Street Smarts // If your best friend drives by a great house and says, “Hey, check out the home for sale on Delaware,” and gives you no other detail, no need to worry. On TalkToTucker.com, you can search by street names without having any other information. Many national sites require cities, zip codes and more before they will deliver what you want.

Con

The site is very user friendly and easy to navigate, but I have one caveat.

Log In to Do More // The only challenge with the site’s new design is that after you view the detailed property description of three homes, you have to log in do more. This might deter some buyers and send them off to other sites that don’t require an account.

While I’m a big fan of TalkToTucker.com, there are many other more popular sites. Be aware that many of these websites do not provide the most accurate data. Be diligent about where and when your resource is getting its information. The data many other sites publish trickles down from other sources, and by the time it is on their websites, it’s outdated or inaccurate. But I know you might still go there, so let’s talk!

ZILLOW AND TRULIA

Zillow and Trulia are very popular sites that see a lot of action. Here’s what you need to know.

Pros

Sold Info // What is cool with Zillow and Trulia is that you can search recently sold homes to find out how much they fetched.

FSBO Included // Zillow allows you to search houses that are for sale by owner, which is not an available search option on broker’s sites or MIBOR.

User Experience // The site design and graphics on Zillow and Trulia are nice. The layout of information makes it relatively simple for the user to read and navigate.

Cons

Don’t Trust a Zestimate // My biggest challenge with Zillow is the “Zestimate” it provides. The Zestimate is Zillow’s estimate of the value for each home featured on its site. I’m not exactly sure how Zillow develops its Zestimates, but its Zestimate Accuracy score for Indiana listings ranked one star out of four at the time of this blog post. Yikes. What I have found is that its numbers are often completely inaccurate, as the comps they use are not ones that a Realtor or even an appraiser would use. The comps should include a combination of these five factors: conditions of sale, financing conditions, market conditions, locational comparability and physical comparability. Since Zillow’s figures are often incorrect (sometimes too high or too low), consumers get an unrealistic picture as to what a house is worth or for what amount they should sell their house.

Outdated Data // The information Zillow and Trulia receive does not come directly from MIBOR and is often outdated by the time it is published on their sites. When I have clients who email me asking to see a home that I know is inactive or has closed, it’s often because they saw the house on Zillow or Trulia. I find myself spending a lot of time clearing up misconceptions about the market and educating buyers and sellers on what homes are truly active in the market.

REALTOR.COM APP

Realtor.com has search capabilities and an incredible app. To be honest, I haven’t used its website much, but it does pull from our local MLS (multiple listing system), so that’s a good sign. Here’s the scoop on the app.

Pro

Geo Targeted // The Realtor.com app allows you to search for homes based on your physical location. I often find myself in a neighborhood with clients and they will ask, “What else is around here for sale?” The first think I do is whip out my Realtor.com app and search for “nearby homes for sale.” The app shows me which homes are available based on my current position.

Step 4.

Now that you have a clearer idea of the neighborhood you want to explore and how much house you can afford in that neighborhood, find a Realtor to verify the information you’re taking in is accurate and current. Your Realtor will create a customized search for you and you alone — not the masses searching the Internet. I create searches for my clients that will notify them the second a home hits the market that matches their search criteria.

Your Realtor will use our very own Broker Listing Cooperative system, often referred to as BLC, and it is the same feed that all Realtors search on, know and trust. BLC also allows me to be far more specific and detailed. For example, I can create a search that stipulates that a main floor master bedroom must have double sinks in the master bath and a separate tub and shower. When you have a search set up by a professional, you will get the most accurate data — bar none. Your Realtor might also know about homes that aren’t yet on the market. It’s nice to have an advocate with the inside scoop on properties and markets.

Step 5. … looking to the future

You need a partner on your team who can be honest with you and look at a home you’re interested in buying through the eyes of a listing agent. When I help buyers purchase, I am certainly trying to fulfill their needs and wants in a house. However, I am also looking at each home as their listing agent in the future.

I want to discuss any obstacles that the buyer might face when they go to sell their house (busy road, small yard, bedroom configuration, etc.). My goal is to set them up with the perfect home and also create a competitive advantage for them when they are ready to sell. No online search can do that.

If you are ready for Step. 4, contact the Kelly Todd Group, (317) 258-5253

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  • Contact Info:

    Kelly Todd, REALTOR®
    F.C. Tucker Company, Inc.
    First Vice President, Residential Division
    317.580.7822 Direct
    317.258.5253 Cell
    317.524.7563 Fax
    kelly@talktotucker.com

    F.C. Tucker Company, Inc.
    9279 N. Meridian St.
    Indianapolis, IN 46260