Why Do Websites Show Me Homes I Can't Buy?
You're cruising the Wild Wild Internet looking for homes to buy and you keep finding a trend. There's a home for sale, but it's not REALLY for sale! Or it is kind of for sale. Or it's already under contract.
Frustrating isn't it? And the answer to WHY is actually complicated. Some of those homes are "accidental" and some are "on purpose". It might be a simple as a time lag in how often websites update. Some update within hours, others days.
Syndicating websites (think Zillow, Trulia, etc.) gather homes for sale from different sources. The bulk of those come from various MLS, but other websites might bring in feeds too. What happens if something goes wrong with the updating? Either because the original website isn't updated properly or because the communications between sites goes sideways? You guessed it, inaccurate data. Homes that are LISTED FOR SALE may have sold months (or even years ago), or the sellers may have quite trying to sell. Either way, you see a home for sale that isn't.
Another category that leads to confusion is whether a website is fed PENDING (homes under contract) homes. For instance one of our two local MLS feeds PENDING status homes to Realtor.com and the other doesn't. Once a home goes under contract the one MLS stops sending it to Realtor.com, but the other doesn't.
Another factor? One MLS a home is either ACTIVE, PENDING, or SOLD (or off market). The other? ACTIVE, ACTIVE/PENDING, PENDING, or SOLD. Notice that ACTIVE/PENDING status? That throws another wrinkle in. What's ACTIVE/PENDING mean? It means the home is under contract BUT there's a condition/contingency that needs to be met to complete the sale. It might mean the bank has to approve a short sale, or the buyer needs to sell their home to buy this home. Once the condition is met, the home is changed to PENDING. So these homes MIGHT offer a chance for you to buy them, but depending on the contract terms you may not have a real chance to buy it.
And as for our own personal website with full Cincinnati MLS search capability, we've set up our search engine to show PENDING homes. Why? Because people that are looking for homes may be driving the neighborhoods and seeing For Sale signs in the yard and wondering why they DON'T find all the homes on our site. If the home is PENDING, you'll still have the sign in the yard, but you might think we're hiding a home from you if we didn't make that choice. Now if you look at the homes on our website, you'll see them labeled ACTIVE or PENDING. It's not the world's biggest type (sorry, that's preset from our provider so we can't change the size), but the distinction is there.
If you call us to see a PENDING home, we'll let you know it's under contract. From there, we can still go see the home (assuming the seller is open to further showings). But typically the first step we'll take is to contact the listing agent and find out if there are any contract terms that would allow you to become #1 and not merely a back up offer for the home.
Have more questions about the home buying or selling process in Ohio? Call 513-520-5305 or email Liz@LizSpear.com.
Liz and Bill aka BLiz