Think Locally - Where Should Purchasers Search for New Homes and Condos?

By
Real Estate Agent with PREA Signature Realty - www.preasignaturerealty.com

USE OF INTERNET WEBSITES AS A HOME SEARCH TOOL

With the rise of the Internet, there are now hundreds of websites that offer consumers the ability to search for homes online.  According to NAR and other surveys, over 90% of purchasers use the Internet to assist them in searching for a new home. In the 2008 NAR Survey of Buyers and Sellers, the survey found that purchasers used the Internet reported using the following sites:

  • 60% Local Multiple Listing Service Sites
  • 48% Realtor.com
  • 46% Real Estate Brokerage Sites
  • 43% Real Estate Agent Sites
  • 19% For Sale by Owner Sites
  • 11% Local Newspaper Sites

QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF LISTING INFORMATION VARIES BY SITE

As purchasers increasingly use the Internet to search for homes, we decided to take a look at some of the search portals commonly used by purchasers in our area.  The results indicate that not all real estate search engines or search portals are created equally.  The quantity (ie. # of listings) and quality (ie. accuracy of information) varies greatly from site to site. Often, quantity and quality issues depend on how the sites obtain their listing information.  It varies from site to site and includes:

  • Paid Placements
  • Feeds from Other Sites
  • Direct Entry by Owner or Agent

As a result of how the sites are updated and when they are updated, it is common to find wrong, inaccurate or dated information on real estate search engine or portal sites (ie. aggregator sites).  Common problems include:

  • Inaccurate # of Bedrooms/Bathrooms/Sq.Footage
  • Wrong Location on Maps
  • Inaccurate or Dated Pricing Information
  • Wrong Status Reports (pending or even sold)

WHERE SHOULD PURCHASERS SEARCH FOR HOMES?

Given the problems with real estate search engines and portals described above, we posed the question:  WHERE SHOULD PURCHASERS LOOK FOR THE BEST DATA ON HOMES LISTED FOR SALE?  Our answer is: GO DIRECTLY TO THE SOURCE.

If you are a serious buyer, want accurate and complete information, and don't want to waste time, I would strongly suggest that you use a REALTOR with MLS access.  Why?  The simple answer is that the MLS provides real-time data, is more accurate in terms of its data, and is more comprehensive for geographic specific locations.  It is also an equal playing field - meaning that search results are based on your criteria and not based on paid placements.

A SIMPLE TEST - SEARCHING FOR HOMES AND CONDOS IN 63104

To test our theory, we entered the same search into MARIS (the local MLS for metropolitan St. Louis), Realtor.com, StLToday.com (the search portal for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Trulia.com, Zillow.com and Yahoo Real Estate.  The search was simply for any residential home or condo in the 63104.

Here were the results based solely on the number of listing available on each site:

 

Search Portal Statistics

Search Portal Statistics

Search Portal Statistics

Here were some simple conclusions based on quantity alone:

  • The MLS had the most listings.  Given that the MLS uses real-time data, it isn't surprising that it is the most comprehensive source for data on homes and condos listed for sale.
  • Realtor.com was a close second.  The difference between the results for Realtor.com and for the local MLS appeared to be attributable to new listings within the past 48 hours. The difference could also be brokerages or individual owners opting out of the listing feed from MLS to Realtor.com.
  • Aggregator sites such as Trulia, Zillow, and Yahoo Real Estate fared poorly by comparison. From 10% to 40% of the available MLS listings weren't shown on these sites.  There sites, in theory, should exceed the MLS with the inclusion of For Sale by Owner listings and REO listings.  However, they not only didn't exceed the MLS in terms of the number of listings; they didn't even match the MLS in terms of available listings.  Here is how the fared:
    • Trulia failed to include in its search 40% of available listings in the search area (83 listings).
    • Yahoo failed to include in its search 10% of available listings in the search area (21 listings).
    • Zillow failed to include in its search 14% of available listings in the search area (28 listings).
  • Paid sites like StLToday.com were of limited utility and reflect the decline in classified advertising generally.  The StLToday site failed to  include in its search 65% of available listings in the search area (135 listings).  For consumers, you are seeing limited listings.  The good news for agents is that your listing are more likely to be seen because there are fewer listings.
  • When you consider that this test was for a single zip code in the St. Louis metropolitan area, the conclusion is that for broader searches you are missing hundreds of listings that may meet your criteria and not be show on sites that require paid placement or on sites that are aggregators as opposed to originators of listings.
  • If you were searching specifically for condos, the differences were even more dramatic. 

In this post, I simply looked at the quantity of listings.  In the next post, I will take a look at the quality of the listings on these sites.

If you want to search for homes in the St. Louis using real-time data from the MLS, please visit our website at www.PREASignatureRealty.com.  Or better yet, send me an e-mail with your search criteria to Ryan@PREASignatureRealty.com and I will set you up with a private MLS search portal.

Posted by

________________________________________________________________________________________________

PREA SIGNATURE REALTY

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PREA Signature Realty is a full service brokerage located at 1709 Park Avenue in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of the City of St. Louis.  PREA Signature proudly serves the following city neighborhoods:  Lafayette Square, Soulard, Benton Park, Benton Park West, Downtown Loft District, Forest Park Southwest, Central West End, Tower Grove East, Tower Grove South, Compton Heights, Shaw, The Hill, Dogtown, Carondelet, Holly Hills, St. Louis Hills, Dutchtown, and the Other Historic Neighborhoods of the City of Saint Louis, Missouri. 

The opinions expressed herein represent the opinions of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of PREA Signature Realty.  All photos and written content were produced by PREA Signature Realty.  All Rights Reserved - PREA Signature Realty (2009).  This content may not be reproduced or reprinted, except for Active Rain re-blogging, without express written permission of PREA Signature Realty.

For more information, visit our website at www.PREASignatureRealty.com or contact Ryan Shaughnessy at 314-971-4381 or send an email to Ryan@PREASignatureRealty.com

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Michelle Silies 03/31/2010 07:32 AM
Topic:
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Location:
Missouri Saint Louis City Saint Louis Lafayette Square
Groups:
Realtors®
The Art Of Marketing You
Saint Louis County, Missouri
The Ninety-ninth Percentile
St Louis City, Missouri - Real Estate & Neighborhood News
Tags:
real estate listings
aggregator sites
real estate search portals

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
260,776
David Monsour
Keller Williams Keystone Realty - Gettysburg, PA
ABR - www.realty-insights.com

I'm surprised that there was that much variance.  The MLS is always the best source but with the listings going out from the MLS it's hard to believe so many aren't making it out to sites like trulia, zillow and so on. 

Mar 07, 2010 04:12 AM #1
Rainmaker
536,247
marti garaughty
garaughty.com - Montreal, QC
a highly caffeinated creative type...

garaughty, blog design, graphics, WordPress, abstract art

Mar 07, 2010 04:15 AM #2
Rainmaker
637,272
Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Ryan, this is very interesting!  I'm going to try this in Kansas City and see what we come up with in our MLS compared to other sites and search engines.  Thanks, sharp cookie.

Mar 07, 2010 04:30 AM #3
Rainmaker
1,310,724
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Very interesting!     Thanks for sharing this information.    

Mar 07, 2010 04:41 AM #4
Rainer
229,238
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - www.preasignaturerealty.com - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

David - There are a host of reasons that listings can't be found on Trulia, Zillow, etc. and it isn't always the fault of Trulia, Zillow, etc. It can be the feed used by the sites.  It can also be individual agents and brokerages opting out or failing to opt-in to the available syndication services.  In the St. Louis market, the local MLS provides free syndication to Trulia and Zillow via Point2Agent.  However, you have to opt-in.  So, I would think that Trulia, Zillow, etc. would capture 90% or more of MLS listings.  However, my assumption was proven wrong as you can see from the post.  In addition to my comments to buyers in this post, the other morale of the story is:  Before an owner signs a listing agreement, they should ask the listing agent where his home will be listed.

Marti:  Thanks for the feature.  I found the results to be interesting.  I don't know whether they are the same for wide search parameters or other markets.  As I indicated in my comment to David, I thought that there was going to be less disparity between the sites.  I would love to hear an explanation from MLS, Trulia, Zillow, etc. as to the reasons for the disparity.

Maria:  Post your results.  I am curious if this is a local market issue or something else.

Sea to Sky:  Thanks for reading.

Mar 07, 2010 06:15 AM #5
Ambassador
920,196
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Ryan, I agree that direct feeds from the MLS's are the most accurate. I take a raw data feed from ours, and my programmer add's Google Maps, satellite images something our MLS doesn't do.

Nothing more frustrating to get a call from a consumer on some of the sites you mentioned and find out it has been off the market for months and one time even 2 years.

 

Mar 07, 2010 10:41 AM #6
Rainer
229,238
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - www.preasignaturerealty.com - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

Missy - We get calls from prospects who saw a listing online and we had to tell them it sold, was under contract, etc.  There are two aspects - the source of the feed and how often it is updated.  I can't figure out why there is such a great disparity in the number of listings shown given that our MLS offers syndication to these sites.  I will do a post next Sunday on the quality of the listings on these sites.  However, looking at the data so far, there seems to be a fair amount of bad information in these listings.

Mar 07, 2010 12:10 PM #7
Rainer
41,186
Jill Schmidt
Aurora, CO

Ryan, very interesting research.  I need to do this for my area.  I'll also be interested in your data on whether the listings are correct.  I know most buyers search the internet before viewing.  This is great information to make sure they know what they are seeing.

Mar 08, 2010 04:19 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,079,273
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Ryan, this is a real eye opener to those who claim that all listings are on all the search portals.

Mar 09, 2010 01:32 AM #10
Rainer
229,238
Ryan Shaughnessy
PREA Signature Realty - www.preasignaturerealty.com - Saint Louis, MO
Broker/Attorney - Your Lafayette Square Real Estate Partner

Jill - There are two message in this post.  Consumers should understand that real estate portals aren't necessarily comprehensive.  Similarly, agents need to not only syndicate their listings but verify that they are showing up in the searches. 

Sharon - Based on these searches, these search portals aren't comprehensive - at least in our area.  However, the unanswered question is why?

Mar 09, 2010 03:40 PM #11
Rainmaker
79,047
Timo Yannopoulos
Platinum Realty Licensed in Missouri - Kansas City, MO
Buying and Selling Kansas City Homes

Great information, that is what I am going to play with tomorrow.

will post my results and let you know what I came up with my local Kansas City Heartland MLS.

Thank you

Kansas City Realtor Timo

Apr 01, 2010 01:27 PM #12
Rainmaker
79,047
Timo Yannopoulos
Platinum Realty Licensed in Missouri - Kansas City, MO
Buying and Selling Kansas City Homes

Great information, that is what I am going to play with tomorrow.

will post my results and let you know what I came up with my local Kansas City Heartland MLS.

Thank you

Kansas City Realtor Timo

Apr 01, 2010 01:28 PM #13
Rainmaker
79,047
Timo Yannopoulos
Platinum Realty Licensed in Missouri - Kansas City, MO
Buying and Selling Kansas City Homes

Hello Ryan

I enjoyed reading your AR posting "Think Locally - Where Should Purchasers Search for New Homes and Condos? " I fully agree with you that the information is not synchronized well and need some improvement. My question to you is, what do you think about the RealBird.com apps? Many RE users I asked like it and I think it's a nice toy / tool to have for the value. The only concern I have is a legal issue, because it does not show the name of the actual listing office. Isn't for us REALTOR the use of this tool in our blogs and/or websites a potential lawsuit. Please see some examples here Your answer is appreciated. Thanks

 

Thank you

Kansas City Realtor Timo

Apr 01, 2010 01:45 PM #14
Rainmaker
79,047
Timo Yannopoulos
Platinum Realty Licensed in Missouri - Kansas City, MO
Buying and Selling Kansas City Homes

Today I have searche for Zip Code 64118 any Single Homes for Sale

The results are as follows:

REALTOR.com 265 listings found

Yahoo 331

Coldwell Banker 258

AskTimo.com 257

Heartland MLS "Local MLS in Kansas City" 234

Reece and Nichols 269

Re-max 311

 

I am really wondering if our MLS and all those high Dollar IDX solutions can do a better job.

Happy Easter weekend

 

Apr 02, 2010 12:51 PM #15
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