It is important to find the right agent when buying or selling a home in Los Angeles. This can be a challenge, as it would be in any area, but especially in the diverse city of Los Angeles and its neighboring cities. You need someone with local knowledge, and sometimes specific neighborhood knowledge.
Many prospective home buyers start their search on some of the big real estate sites. We all know who they are, There is nothing wrong with that as long as they are taken for their face value. They are user friendly and offer great tools for home searches. However, buyers need to know what some of these mega sites are actually offering.
When you find a home you are interested in on one of these sites, you will see a list of agents to contact in order to be shown the listing. One will be the listing agent and the rest are simply agents who paid for the privilege of being featured next to listings in neighborhoods or zip codes they have signed up for. They are technically buying leads. In fact when you search for something online, particularly a service or real estate information, what will pop up at the top of your search results are either paid ads or, in the case of homes for sale, one of the mega, national sites with an unlimited budget for search engine optimization (SEO) which will always put them on top of those of us who can’t afford to employ someone full time to ensure that we also rise to the top.
I am not complaining. For a while my website was usually on page one for home listings, through my subscription to a powerful Internet Date Exchange product (IDX), which is basically a direct feed from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). It is hard work keeping a website fresh and attractive to the search engines. But with one of the many Google algorithm changes – they seem to occur more and more frequently – my position for listings results as dropped. I am on page one for a few other search results, but a huge focus of buyers when looking for homes is finding appropriate listings and being able to view the home.
My point here is, we all have the same listings on our websites, as the root source is the MLS, which is the platform which real estate agents use to showcase homes for sale. Generally the seller will agree to have their listing syndicated which is how they appear throughout the internet (it would’t make sense not to). One caveat is if for some reason a seller does not agree to syndication, which would mean you would not find their home for sale anywhere other than the MLS, and that would result in it not being fed to the IDX products either. Also, the information driven to an agent’s website through IDX is updated every few hours, unlike some of the portal sites where you often find outdated information.
So, just because you just look at what comes up on the first page and blindly follow the path through the site to a “recommended” agent, think twice. The only one with direct knowledge of the home in question will be the listing agent – read why it not a great idea to use the listing agent – the rest will be agents paying for leads, and you will be inundated with calls from several of them trying to get your business after you enter your contact info.
Another problem with these mega sites is the market information you will get. Much of this information is computer generated and may be inaccurate, especially estimated comparable prices for the home in question. There is no one on the ground comparing apples with apples and this mis-information does not arm a buyer with the information needed to make an educated offer.
Take time to visit local agents’ websites. Read what they have to say about the local market. They will know how a home compares to a recently sold home so that you can feel comfortable that you are not overpaying or making an offer the seller will not accept.
Most of all you will know you are not just a name on a list which agents have paid to capture from a computerized site. I would want a little more personal attention, wouldn’t you?
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