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The Good (Agents), The Bad (Inaccuracies), and The Ugly (Photos)

January 04 2012

For this new column, I’ll be sharing the details of my own house hunt and the ways I use technology to make it easier (or more difficult, as the case may be). In the first article, I shared that we had found a house of interest to us and looked it up on our local MLS consumer-facing website. I encouraged you all to take another look at your yard signs and see what you could improve. Read my last post for the tips.

Ugly Photos
There were only a few photos of this house on our MLS consumer-facing website, far less than most of the others we saw. And they were crappy – really crappy. I’m completely baffled by why an agent wouldn’t include the most pictures possible. I’m equally shocked that they wouldn’t take the time to create high-quality, attractive photos. Agents should always put forth a strong effort with photography.

We’ve published a lot of great info about real estate photography, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here. If you want to learn about improving your photos, this list may be a good place to start. You can also check out photography services in our product directory. There are also some virtual tour companies that have local photographers to help you out.

Inaccuracies
Because I found the search function on our MLS consumer-facing website (which is CCRlistings.com, by the way) so annoying, I decided to give Zillow a try. I was in for an unpleasant surprise, however. The house, which had been listed at $525,000 on CCRlistings.com, was listed on Zillow for $625,000.

Intrigued, I decided to check a few other sites. Here’s what I found:

  • Yahoo! Real Estate: Price wasn’t accurate and the listing didn’t even have a photo

property search 2

  • REALTOR.com: information was accurate, including a notification that the price had dropped. This makes sense as they pull directly from the MLS. property search 3
  • Trulia: The address wasn’t included and the price was the "market value;" the only photo was a satellite view of the street.

property search 4

The worst part: this listing didn’t even appear on the broker’s website. The whole website is broken, in fact, which is a whole other article.

The big take-away: agents and brokers need to keep their listing accurate on third party listing websites. It is not Zillow, Yahoo!, or Trulia’s fault if the agent is not doing his (or her) job. As I was doing the research on this house online, I became confused and uncertain. My guard is up now, and I do not know who to trust.

Picking Our Agent
So, despite the lack of quality photos, we’re still interested in learning more about this house. Our next step is to schedule and attend a showing. Or is it? Is now the time for us to choose a real estate agent to help us in our search? Based on the comments from my last article, I’d say it is.

Stay tuned for our quest to find a buyer’s agent.