Home Buyers Can Tweek Search Parameters by Asking Agents to Include and Exclude Criteria

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Gold DRE #00697006

land park agentSome people may not know this, but I also manage my homebuying forum on About.com. This is a place where buyers and sellers come to ask questions, which members of my forum and I answer -- and it's also a place where I get a lot of my article ideas for my Home Buying & Selling website.

One of the questions submitted this week was how can a buyer find only those homes with brick exteriors. You never know what type of requirements a buyer might come up with, but I do my best to match criteria. Sometimes, buyers will have a preference for the direction a home faces. Many Land Park buyers, for example, prefer south-facing homes in Land Park, so I end up showing only those on the north side of the east-west streets. I don't know why, exactly. My home in Land Park faces north, and I like the sun in the back yard. But everybody's preferences are different.

Yesterday, an investor contacted me via email to ask if I would help him buy a home. He had strict requirements. Part of his were the home needed to have automatic sprinklers in the front and rear, plus dual pane windows.

Well, yesterday was lockbox day in Sacramento. This is when I drive around Sacramento to pick up my lockboxes on listings that closed escrow for the week. Since I returned from my Viet Nam travels, I've been battling a cold, picked up most likely from stupid, sniveling passengers on the plane home. I spent much of the morning in bed with my laptop. But life goes on. I had to get my lockboxes.

Little did I realize that one of those homes was in Folsom and the other was in Citrus Heights, a bit of a haul from Land Park. I promised those buyer's agents that I would remove the lockboxes on Saturday. So whether I felt up to it or not, coughing, sneezing and feeling overall icky, I had to live up to my promise.

After the lockboxes were safely in my trunk, I snuggled back into bed. I signed on to MLS and set up an automatic search for the investor. Some agents do not know that they can set up search parameters under "additional" that will let them finely tune the search. You can include certain features and exclude features from a search. You may severely limit the number of homes for sale if the parameters are set too tightly. For example, if a buyer tells me he wants to buy a home in Land Park for under $500,000, I'll often send homes priced up to $600,000, because overpricing is common in Land Park.

But I could not find a search function for auto sprinklers. To get around that problem, I could have selected a tighter focus on the age of the home, but not every agent fills out the profile section with auto sprinklers and some might check the box for only front sprinklers. In the end I decided that the investor can roll with the inventory. If the home he truly desires does not have sprinklers, for the right price, he can put them in.


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elizabeth weintraub



Weintraub and Wallace Realtors



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Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.


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Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

I wish we had your MLS abilities. We don't have the ability to exclude and quite frankly it's painful sometimes.

Dec 20, 2009 04:01 AM #1
David Salvato
David Home Inspection Service Home Inspector San Bernardino - Los Angeles, CA

Elizabeth good reminder for some people that forget to ask. Everyone is diferent and when you can search for exactly what the client wants it helps to zero in on a property.

Dec 20, 2009 06:34 AM #2
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Hi Vickie: Which MLS do you use that doesn't allow you to do this? I thought all of northern Cal was on the same system. But I rarely venture outside of Sacramento.

Hi David: Most of the search parameter requests I get are things like one-story over a two-story, raised foundation over slab or to exclude homes without a garage, but sometimes I get odd requests such as no carpeting. I do my best to comply, but MetroList doesn't give us non-ending options. I guess it has to draw the line somewhere.

land park agent

Dec 20, 2009 08:31 AM #3
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Ours is called the client portal and it's really wonderful although I caution clients not to be too specifice or they will not get many records.

Dec 20, 2009 09:10 AM #4
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Elizabeth:  Don't you just love the ability to fine tune a search, only to find that there are about 25% or more of agents out there that put in the bare minimum of info on a home when entering it in the MLS.  Drives me crazy. 

Dec 20, 2009 09:44 AM #5
Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Real Estate Solutions - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR®, Blogger, Principal Broker®, Owner

I just stopped by to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

We are getting a "White Christmas" this year and loving it!

your friend in Charlottesville!

Dec 20, 2009 09:53 AM #6
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

I guess we can use the basic search for most buyer but some do have very specific needs and some MLS's just don't offer the search programs to select the requirements.

Dec 20, 2009 10:38 AM #7
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Yard sprinklers add value to a house, in my opinion, but too many agents don't even know they are in the yard.  The home owner forgets to say so.  I can see that a MLS searcy for them would probably be futile.

Dec 20, 2009 12:57 PM #8
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

We have to tweet the buyers needs in our MLS too.

Sometimes if like you they want all brick or a certain feature, that is the best way to go.

Feel better.

Dec 21, 2009 01:00 AM #9
Christine Hynes
American Capital Corporation - Laguna Beach, CA
Orange County Senior Loan Consultant

Thanks for the tip on about.com, i haven't been to that site yet!

Dec 21, 2009 01:33 AM #10
Carra & Shae Riley
Brokers Guild Cherry Creek Ltd - Westminster, CO
Helping people Transition at all ages!

Elizabeth---Having an MLS with searchable fields certainly allows you to narrow down the properties for showing.  You can save alot of time by showing only those which meet the buyers criteria. We just have to be sure to ask the right questions!

Dec 21, 2009 04:15 AM #11
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ

Elizabeth, hope you feel better very soon. Your trip to Viet Nam sounds wonderful. Beautiful pictures. Tweaking our buyers choices are typically a must for most. In Arizona, drip systems are fairly common in the newer homes and irrigation in older homes. We actually have that option. When you don't, you're right. They can sort through! ;-)

Merry Christmas

Dec 21, 2009 07:22 AM #12
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Hi, Elizabeth:

Your photos from your trip are terrific! I hope you feel better soon.

I have trouble with specific requests from buyers. Even if I set up a search for properties that have sprinkler systems, for example, some agents would forget include the code for them on the MLS. I end up having to go through and manually search listings for specific requests anyway.

But that's why I make the big bucks!



Dec 22, 2009 02:25 AM #13
Cara Pearlman
Frankly Real Estate, Inc - Bethesda, MD
Realtor - ABR, SFR

As others above have alluded - as much as I hate inundating buyers with listings that don't match their criteria - I don't feel comfortable relying on some of the listing agents who don't accurately enter their listings in our MLS. If I have a buyer has super specific criteria, I don't set up an automated search. I just search several times a day or set up an auto search that I have sent to myself so I can filter through the results before I forward. Most of my clients would prefer to have more listings sent to them and weed out the mis-matches themselves.

Happy to have you back at AR! Your trip pictures are amazing - wishing you speedy recovery from your cold.

Dec 22, 2009 04:35 AM #14
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