Who doesn't like taking a quick scroll through homes for sale, even if we’re not in the market for a home? We poke around on a few websites just to see what homes are on the market and what prices are looking like. We look in our neighborhood and get an idea of what our home might be worth. Perhaps we skip over to that desired neighborhood, where we always wanted to live or even grew up. Or maybe we go search for the custom dream home in a different city or state. Fun, right? I mean we’re just “window shopping”. It's all fun and farmhouses until you put in your contact info to receive more info on a property. WARNING, WARNING, ALERT, ALERT! The moment you have entered your name, email, phone number and clicked the big red button “contact agent” you have now opened the floodgates!
3 Things to Avoid When Looking at Homes for Sale Online
When you browse websites such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc. to look for a homes for sale, you should know how they work before you enter your information.
1. Contact form: This is a marketing platform for many Realtors and lenders. They pay for this space on the website. And many times, not just one Realtor/lender, but multiple.
2. Contact Agent: 99% of the time this button does NOT contact the listing agent of the home you're looking at. It's just a link to an agent who has paid for leads in the desired area (zip code) that this home fell under.
3. Communication: Phone, texts, and email will come to you non stop for weeks until you say “STOP”.
Now, just imagine, if you've looked at multiple homes and made inquiries on multiple websites. Well, now you are looking at potentially up to 12 different Realtors and/or lenders looking to connect with you. Trying to find out what you're looking for, see if you are working with a Realtor/lender already, then asking to put you on a home search via email, etc.
The fine print, just below the big red button “contact agent” states, “By clicking “contact agent”, you consent to receive texts and calls (including by automated means and prerecorded/artificial voices) from Realtor.com and real estate professionals about your request. Your consent is not required as a condition to buy. More…"
What??!! Well maybe you did read it, but like most of us, we tend to overlook the font that requires a magnifying glass to read.
It is critical to align yourself with reputable real estate professionals, such as The Crist Team, before pressing ANY buttons on a home search website! Can’t emphasize this enough. If you are working with a Realtor and they didn’t clarify or offer that they will do the home searching for you and send you homes based off your needs and criteria, then you may want to realign with another agent.
The key to these searches is that at any point in your search, if you are curious about a property, you need to reach out to your Realtor. Nothing stops you from looking on these sites, you can even send a property to your Realtor asking them to check into it. But be aware that many times these sites don’t show real-time stats. Which means that many of the homes you are looking at and interested in, may already be under contract. Your Realtor, however, will not send you homes that are already under contract. Because, duh, no one likes to get googly eyes for a house another buyer has already snatched up two weeks ago.
Only a Realtor will have the updated information, as they will see this on the MLS. The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is the search engine Realtors use when searching for homes for sale online. Which if they put you on a search, they will see homes listed at the live time and many times even before they hit all the popular websites.
Speak with a Realtor and Lender. Align yourself with a Realtor and leave the searching up to them. If you find a property online, DON’T click the button to contact agent or find out more. Just let your Realtor know and if you don’t have one, give The Crist Team a call.
*P.S. DON’T go looking at any houses or scheduling a showing on a home until your pre-approved with a lender! This is critical!
Now, we are not saying to NOT look online for a lender or Realtor, we are just saying you need to be mindful of the forms you complete. You need to be aware of when you are reaching out for “more info” on these types of websites. This includes lender websites. We do encourage you do your research on the lenders and Realtors you choose to reach out to.