Some real estate search engines are not in the business you think they are.
If I do an internet search for “purchase home in Birmingham, Alabama,” the first several hits I get are what seem to be big national home search engines. You know the ones. They’ve got eye-catching websites with beautiful pictures. The homes are categorized in appealing ways like “great middle schools” or “new construction.” You can even do video walk-throughs! They seem to have data on every single town and city in the country. You can look for a home anywhere!
What Real Estate Search Engines are Really Doing
But you need to understand that these companies are not in business to simply provide home searches. Their true purpose is to capture your name, your email address, and whatever other data they can get on you and your family. They then sell that data to lenders and real estate agents — for big money.
That’s their real business.
Get this: for the vast majority of the real estate companies we do business with, anywhere from 20 to 40% of the realtors in those companies get all of their business from big home search engines. All they have to do is buy the data. Some lenders will do the same thing.
Another major problem with these search engines — and it’s a big problem to solve — is that they cannot keep home prices, home sales, and all of the other information on houses updated. This is a big country, with millions of home sales every year. Most of these search engines will have an estimate of a home’s value, but it can be way far off. The algorithms they use simply can’t take everything into account. They’re not going inside the house. They may be comparing a recently updated home against another home that hasn’t been touched since the 1970s — and there’s no way they can know.
If you’re going to search online, use a local search engine. We have one on our website, and the difference between ours and the big guys is ours is tied directly to the local MLS system (the multiple listing service) — and the MLS is updated all the time.
We have found the data from those big national search engines to be inaccurate on numerous occasions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client call me wanting to go look at a certain home for which they’re trying to get pre qualified, and call back a little later so disappointed because they just learned the home was sold three months earlier. The data they were looking at was outdated and just plain wrong.
As much as it seems like a pain, look locally. Look at our app for homes in this area. If you’re going to buy in southern California, you’re going to want to find an agent who knows the specific area you’re interested in and use their online home search. You need somebody who’s plugged into the local MLS system.
Stay away from the big home search engines. They are in the business of capturing people’s information, not in gathering accurate home data.
Connect with Us
Check out benchenault.com and download our home search app here. You can search for homes and calculate mortgage payments. You can even get prequalified,* upload documents securely to you loan officer, and keep up with the status of your loan. There is also a place for you to keep up with current market events and brush up on mortgage terms in the glossary. If you have questions, pick up the phone and give us a call at (205) 986–4220. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
Certified Mortgage Planner
MortgageBanc / Fairway Nmls# 2289
2007 Eagle Ridge Drive
Birmingham, AL 35242
*A pre-qualification is not an approval of credit and does not signify that underwriting requirements have been met.
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