If there is one thing I can say about a Berks Countian it is that they know how to shop and find a deal. Some people who are not native to the area say we are cheap. I say they are jealous. Anyone can spend $200 on a bottle of wine and choose a winner. One need be savvier to choose a good $10 bottle.
So who better to ask about home shopping than Berks County residents?
In 2013 the National Association of Realtors® stated that 90 percent of home buyers search online during their home buying process. I sometimes think the 10 percent that don’t live in Berks but we all know that cannot be true… Right?
I think the key phrase in NAR’s statement is that buyers shop for homes online during the process. Obviously this means that other forms of media are still being utilized to find homes. Yes, finding the right home for the right price is a process. The savvy home buyer will use newspaper, magazines and flyers on grocery store walls, if necessary, to find the right property.
There are places around the United States that do not use publication advertising at all. Several years ago the largest real estate brokerages in Seattle Washington agreed to pull all their home ads from publications. This forces more people to utilize the web to find homes and saves the brokerage advertising dollars. More areas are following this trend.
Berks County is fortunate to have publications like the Reading Eagle, Homes & Land Magazine and the Buyers Real Estate Weekly. These publications are easy to find and create a conduit to the web. The internet is where many go to do further research. It is important to consider the accuracy of the home information you are researching.
Home shoppers should be aware of how accurate the home information is on the site they are using. Zillow and Trulia get home information from many different sources. This is a bit chaotic and unreliable so they offer other things to draw the public’s attention like home value estimates, foreclosures that are not for sale and dozens of toys. Most of us have heard of the Zestimate® by now. While much of this is fun and fancy the actual home search has not changed much.
Realtor.com is likely the most accurate home search website of all the large players in the space and it does not get near the activity as the other two. Does this mean that people looking for their next home like toys more than accurate information? My take is that they simply do not know the information is flawed.
Want more accuracy when searching online? The best tool to use is a website that has an IDX feed (Internet Data Exchange). Some Realtors® have home searches on their website that are fed by the local and regional MLS system. In our area the data feed comes from the Trend Multi-List. The home information doesn’t get more accurate than this unless you have a real estate license.
I have searched for an IDX provider for my website for over 10 years. This past year I finally found the most innovative home search tool available. It was provided by a company in Olympia, Washington called SpotOnConnect.
In my humble opinion, the best place to find a home is to first find a qualified Realtor®. There is no better tool to use.
You can also stop by and vote for your favorite way to find available homes. I will post the results next week.
Jeffrey C. Hogue
[advpoll id=”2″ title=”Advanced Poll” width=”270″]
Want to add another category or ask a question? Enter it in the blog space below.