Real estate and the internet – it’s gotta be true

by Dan Krell
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(Dan Krell © 2013)

Real Estate on the InternetThe internet is brimming with information.  And although a lot of information is based in fact, there’s plenty that is not.  People often fall prey to internet half-truths because information is often presented convincingly with conviction by websites claiming to be the authority.  The internet can be such a quagmire that even some trusted and reliable media outlets have been fooled.

Home buyers and sellers are increasingly depending on the internet for information to assist them in buying and selling real estate.  Many real estate websites that are visited not only contain current homes listed for sale as syndicated by the local MLS; they may also post homes for sale by other sources that include homes for sale by owner, fake listings posted by desperate real estate agents, and advertisements from other websites.  Unless you know what you’re looking for, you might never know the posting source or how long it has been posted on the site.

The MLS syndication is usually updated to ensure accuracy, even if it’s not always timely.  However, it’s the list of FSBO’s, sham listings, and advertisements that can be out of date and/or used to lure consumers to visit other sites.  Some home buyers/sellers can be lured to occasionally spend money for bargain homes for sale and home sales information.

Some real estate websites post advertisements as “teasers.”  The teaser may show a home for sale at a great price, but could lead to another website that may charge for the full information about foreclosures or bargain homes.  Once on these sites, some consumers misunderstand that all the homes listed are for sale.  The reality is that although these sites provide a service of collecting and posting public information about homes that have foreclosure notices and other related information (and sometimes even list MLS listings for sale), not all the homes are for sale.  In fact some of the homes listed as distressed properties may never be offered for sale as a foreclosure because the home owners resolve their issues without losing their home.

The internet continues to be a source of real estate related scams.  Internet real estate scams continue to prey on susceptible home buyers and sellers, as new and sophisticated cons are devised.  Scammers often post fake names and photos to present themselves as being local, when they are not.

Yes, many real estate websites have taken steps to maintain information integrity by monitoring postings, and allowing user feedback to flag problem listings; and some of the leading real estate websites strive to continually improve on the consumer experience.  However, if you want up to date and accurate home listing and sales information, talk to a real estate agent.  Your agent has access to the local MLS and can not only provide you with timely home listings and contract status; they can also provide you with an up to date home sales analysis.

Just because you found it on the internet, does not necessarily mean it’s accurate.  Practice due diligence and check out the source.  A lot of real estate related information posted on the internet can be verified through public records.  Public information is often readily available on the ‘net, and can be found on public websites maintained by State and local jurisdictions.  For more information on protecting yourself on the internet, visit the “scams and safety” link on the FBI website (FBI.gov).

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 25, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

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