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Searching homes for sale online

7. Searching for Homes Online

Trusting Data

Searching homes for sale online is incredibly easy to do, and can actually be quite fun!

There are some amazing websites out there that offer really easy ways to search homes for sale, but it’s difficult to know what is accurate, and what is not.

If you have ever experienced the wasted time and frustration of visiting websites that deliver out-dated and inaccurate information, you will know what I’m talking about.

If you have not had this experience, fantastic!  My goal here is to help you avoid wasted time by putting online home search data into perspective.

Searching Homes Online – Syndicated Data

There are many websites out there that use Syndicated Data to get information about homes that are for sale.  This data is pushed in timed intervals through a feed to these websites.

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The result is that you may be looking at a snapshot of a home for sale in time, not necessarily not at this current moment.

This essentially creates a duplicate and independent version that is not updated when the source information is changed, the information is not updated in a timely manner if at all and home searchers will often find that the home has been sold or is in escrow.

While these websites are well built and easy to use, they are in the business of selling advertising impressions from the millions of visitors these sites get.  These sites are fun to play around on but don’t rely solely on the information without verifying it with a professional.

These Syndicated Data websites are useful in narrowing down your options, areas and amenities if you’re getting anxious about find the perfect home, just don’t count on the information on specific homes to be 100% accurate.

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The best possible thing you can do is use your Real Estate Agents direct feed to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which is the original source of all online information.

Searching Homes Online – Real-Time Data

Your Real Estate Agent should be able to provide you with Direct MLS Access that is highly customizable by yourself and even more so by your Real Estate Agent.

Most Real Estate Agents today offer mobile search apps or mobile-optimized sites with GPS enabled home search capabilities.

This is the best way to communicate with your Real Estate Agent as well.  As you save, and make notes on homes that you find in your searches, you help teach your Real Estate Agent to learn what you like and prefer in an area and/or home.

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Popular home search sites that offer nationwide, real-time data include:

Zillow.com is not directly fed by MLS feeds at the time of writing this article.  It is fed data from brokers and real estate agents through timely updates, but not real-time.

Zillow also advertises to consumers to list “for sale by owner” (FSBO) homes for sale.  The information added initially, requires the homeowner to log back in, to update the FSBO listing.


About the Author

Scott Schang

A 20 year veteran of the Mortgage and Real Estate industry, I am passionate about educating and empowering consumers. I have been writing about consumer protection issues, and making sense of complicated real estate and mortgage topics on this website since 2007

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