6 Myths About Online Property Shopping — Busted,.

1. The listing agent is the point of contact.

Depending on what website you are using, the inquiry may not likely be routed to the listing agent. In fact, there is a very good chance that it will be sent to agents who are not the listing agent.

"Say what? You mean when I click the button for more information I'm not being routed to the listing agent?!"

Your inquiry is likely getting routed to several agents at once, none of whom are the listing agent. This is why you will likely be contacted by multiple agents in response to one property you simply wanted more information about.

That’s right — there may not be a listing agent on the receiving end of your email. You see, leads are not free. There are agents paying big bucks to subscribe to particular ZIP codes in order to receive leads. Agents are continually cycling in and out of buying subscriptions to these ZIP codes as it is quite pricey. The costs involved for an agent to receive these leads often equate to a monthly rent or mortgage payment — just to receive leads that may or may not work out.

2. I'll never be able to get these people to stop 'bothering' me

You should expect to be contacted multiple times by text, email and phone by an agent or their designee. These follow-ups might be in the form of auto-responders if not an actual person trying to reach out. The best way to get these multiple inquiries to stop is to simply respond.

If you are already working with an agent, please let the person who has contacted you know that. If it was an accidental inquiry, let the agent know that too. If you are dreaming about buying a certain kind of home and simply curious, be upfront about that so the agent can appropriately manage the communication with you. You are not obligating yourself to anyone or anything simply because you "clicked here for more information," but you need to understand what goes on behind the scenes of the process to minimize confusion in an already confusing situation.

3. It's just 'point, click and show,' right?

I realize you might think requesting a showing is as simple as "point, click and show," but if you are working with an agent, or if your agent is not available, please do not mislead the agent who responds to your internet inquiry by letting him or her show you properties. You already know you have no intention of writing an offer with that agent.

Although getting familiar with inventory in the marketplace in advance of buying is acceptable, you are better to engage with one agent who'll assist you upfront versus randomly inquiring about properties here and there.

There are many agents eager to jump into action, arrange to show you property and incubate you as a lead for weeks, months or even years; but doing so when you have other intentions will only lead to disappointment, confusion and frustration for all involved.

4. I can just see the property right away, can't I?

Trying to see a house is not quite as instant as ordering an Uber. Buyer, the agents contacting you will probably be asking the following questions:

  • Do you have an agent?
  • Have you been prequalified or preapproved by a lender?
  • What is bringing you into the market?
  • What is your time frame for finding a home?
  • Do you rent or own?
  • If you rent, when is your lease up?
  • If you own, do you have to sell a property first in order to buy?

And that might just be the tip of the iceberg.

Why do agents have to ask all of those questions, you ask? Well, agents are trained to "prequalify" all prospects. Their job involves so much more than simply unlocking a door. They have an obligation to themselves and all involved in the real estate process to ensure would-be buyers are following the right process and are qualified to purchase what they are looking at. Not to mention the safety factor involved.

5. Everything mentioned online is everything I need to know

Most people do not buy the property that they inquire about. In fact, most times it is often everything but what they are looking for. An online listing is a surface level look at something that often does not tell the whole story. How much are the association dues and taxes — and what about that hidden assessment? Is there a busy highway or railroad near the home or community? Has the neighborhood been overrun by renters?

If you are casually thinking about buying a property in a particular area and are not committed to anyone, consider engaging with an agent who reached out to you to better start the process so you can get some advice and guidance about what you can get for your money in your desired area.

Otherwise, searching online and sending random inquiries on various properties is a lot like throwing a dart. You have no idea what you are looking at, nor do you have any sense of the property, neighborhood, area or factors that could affect value. You will grow weary of multiple agents continually contacting you.

6. I'm looking online — I don’t need an agent

Despite what the proliferation of technology may have you believe, there is never a substitute for in-the-trenches insight, advice and guidance imparted by a highly-knowledgeable and skilled agent. Contrary to what you might think, an agent can actually save you from making an expensive mistake, overpaying for a property and not fully exploring your options.

An agent might be able to suggest the ideal area for you — one that checks all your boxes and has available properties in your price range — which you would not have found randomly searching online. Agents know what you should know (but don't) and it is their job to fill in those gaps.

A little online knowledge can be a dangerous thing when it leads buyers to believe they’ve covered all their bases. An agent's knowledge is a highly valuable thing that far exceeds the price of any property you buy — it's designed to help you make wise decisions about what is likely the single largest transaction you'll make in your entire life.

Before you decide to "click here for more information," consider how these myth-busters can lead to a more productive and informative property search experience.

Article courtesy of Cara Ameer, Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty

Win Singleton

Associate Broker

Long & Foster Real Estate
3060 Williams Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031
703-573-2600 Office
571-220-3018 Direct

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