Before you were surfing for homes on computers, brokers kept track of their listings by card catalogues. As a matter of fact, these old cards were displayed at the old Rockville office of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS), (the old multiple list service).
During that time before the MLS, brokers were not required to share information and listings with other brokers. This proprietary system allowed the broker to maintain the buyers that came to seek information on homes for sale.
Looking back, home buying was not complicated. Home buyers would go to the local real estate office and see what homes were available. Homes for sale and other information were limited to what your Realtor knew. Most likely, the only homes your Realtor showed you were homes that were listed by that real estate firm. Needless to say, the real estate industry has come a long way since then.
Since the advent of the multiple list service, technology has made a huge impact on the real estate industry. Presently, surfing for homes has never been easier. Home buyers can look for homes on the internet and get listings via email and cell phones. As a matter of fact, if you go onto the internet, you will have hundreds of Realtors (including myself) as well as Real Estate Companies offer to send you home listings.
With all of this information flying around, what’s the most reliable and accurate information available?
The most reliable and accurate information available for Realtor listed homes is through MRIS. Unfortunately, if you are not a real estate professional, you can not have a membership to peruse the database. The good news is, however, that all the other databases and online searches of Realtor listed homes are fed by the MRIS. The quality of the information depends on the website’s ability to update their information from MRIS and how it disseminated.
There are a few popular internet searches that offer free searching without offering information. If you choose additional information or services from these sites, you must fill out an information page giving at least a name and email address. Although you get to search on your own, the sites do promote realtors and other real estate professionals.
Older style internet home search services forward your information to a local Realtor who will send you the information you seek. All these sites are useful and you can get the information you desire as long as your search criteria is specific enough. Unfortunately, if your search criteria are too specific, you will miss seeing homes that you may actually consider buying.
There are many alternative sites tthat allow surfing for homes too (such as craigslist.org). These sites allow specifc posts by brokers and FSBO’s.
Having all the technology and information available online is useful, however there are drawbacks. The main drawback is that most of the information is limited and you must contact someone for additional information. No matter what manner of internet home searching you choose, you will be more informed than not having done the search at all.
By Dan Krell
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