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Real estate websites holding you hostage?

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Shopping online for a home? Be very aware of how much personal information you share on real estate web sites. Stay in control by avoiding filling out website forms online. By being careful you’ll avoid spam, unwanted phone calls, junk mail and knocks on your door by agents who want to sell your property.

Search only websites that show the listing broker or agent before you impart any information. Make sure the website clearly identifies who the listing agent is. Often listings can be from other agencies, (via by CTX, RMLS) and are seeded into an website from other offices, so pay close attention. The office website may not actually be the listing broker. There is as big difference between who the listing broker or office is and who shows it. Try to close that gap. If you are going to be shown a home, it’s not a date. But you darn well want to know to whom you are talking to.

Most importantly the listings online should have a separate phone number or two to call. Do not respond to online “fill out forms” unless the agent to whom it is sent is identified. You really don’t know where this information is going or how it will be used unless the listing agent is clearly identified and even then it may go to a service person.

Try not to call the “floor phone” to the office. This is the main office phone through which buyers and sellers are fielded. When buying it is better to call the listing agent of the home your are interested in. Remember the agent is working for the seller. You have no contract with them. I have found that agents with many personal listings often have more experience than rookies that are waiting on the sideline to get one. The office floor phone in smaller real estate offices are often answered by rookie agents who are working without hourly pay….and/or don’t have listings and desperately want yours. In larger offices alternate of choice is a support person who may field your call to just any agent unless you specify who you need to speak to.

Know what agent or broker you want to talk to before calling. Chances are good any agent will show you a property off the local multiple listing service. But it is best to talk to the listing agent of the property rather than just anybody in the office as they have a more experience with the listing you are interested in. Also, by calling the agent directly you know whether they are in the habit of answering their cellphone. If you call 3 times without a return, you make want to move on to a different agent.

Some real estate web sites may hold reader hostage until they know your motivation for buying. The website form may require email address and a contact phone number. Often they will not impart broker or listing information until you provide personal information.When looking at web listings think to yourself what i s this website hiding hiding about the agents? Who is the listing agent for this listing? How much personal information do you really want to impart before filling out a form? You may get safer and more reliable service by making a phone call instead. (Otherwise you’ll just end up with personal information in another database for advertising and marketing purposes.)

Many websites have what I call “sandbagged” listings. These websites don’t offer full listings access until you impart personal information. This sort of automation is what is (in my opinion) taking people out of the real estate business and is not good for the industry. I believe that that part of the home buying experience is who is showing your property, in addition to the property itself.

Use real estate websites that make it plain who the listing broker is for each individual listing. Anything else means there could be listing juggling in the office, or worse…a listing that nobody wants to show. This can be the case when the fuel requirement take more of the agents resources.

If finally you elect to fill out a online inquiry form, know who you are imparting information to. At least you’ll know which website to hold accountable and you’ll be in a better position to request being taken off their mailing list. Keep in mind with some real estate websites there often isn’t a mechanism for doing so, so it is best to use a junk email address.

Finally remember that often a security captcha only ensures the respective office receives no spam and not necessarily a secure website.

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Written by gettheconcept

December 21, 2008 at 5:50 pm