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The internet has created a whole new way of searching for and finding the home you want. In many cases, it is the home listing information or data that leads you to that unique property. Thus, the accuracy of this information is more critical than ever.

Years ago if you were looking for a home, you had to get in your car and start driving around the areas you desired to live and look for yard signs. Along the way, you may pick up a newspaper and search the real estate classifieds which offered little more than price, bedrooms, baths, area, and a phone number to call for more information. Sometime later you might have scheduled a meeting with your local real estate professional to comb through the Multi-list book.

Fast forward to the home search of today. All one needs to do is get on the computer and google "homes for sale in any area," and thousands, if not millions, of results, are available. Home finding real estate websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia work by having the home seeker enter information like location, price, bedrooms, baths, etc. The prospective buyer then gets a list of homes that match the criteria they entered. The home buyer can then save the chosen home search criteria and any properties that come on the market matching that criteria are promptly sent to them via text and email.

The key to this type of home search filtering and efficiency is the data and information that is entered by the listing source, aka, agent or brokerage. In some cases, real estate agents may push the envelope when entering data on listed homes, so they have the opportunity to be viewed by a broader range of prospective home buyers. There can be a thin line between smart home marketing and misrepresentation here.

Home Listing Information ~ Some Do's and Don'ts

Don't Misrepresent Bedrooms and Baths ~ In one of my recent articles I talked about the misconceptions of What Defines a Bedroom. The more bedrooms that a home has, the more likely it will be picked up in more home searches. I have seen two bedroom homes listed as having three. I have also witnessed extra baths included because there is a toilet in an unfinished part of the basement. These misrepresentations are big letdowns to prospective buyers looking for actual usable bedroom and baths.

Don't Misrepresent Garage Spaces ~ I have been witness to homes listed as having three-car garages and when you arrive at the property there are only two garage doors but the garage is deep enough to park a third or even fourth small car. You may be able to park eight tiny vehicles or twenty motorcycles in the space, but it is still a two-car garage. At best, the agent should consider using the remarks section to spell out the size and usefulness of the garage area. In some areas two-car garages that have enough room to park other cars are called two-car tandem garages or 2 1/2 car garages.

Do Use Finished Basement Square Footage in the Total ~ Home square footage is one of the most used variables by appraisers when differentiating value, so it is of utmost importance the figures are as accurate as possible. Our MLS system has three categories for listing home square footage, total square footage, above-grade square footage, and below grade square footage. I suggest that instead of using the assessment estimate of home square footage agents physically measure the above-grade and below-grade square footage and put the totals in the MLS. This practice will help both the home buyers know what they are getting and appraisers do their job. It is my humble opinion that agents should be able to use a tape measure competently. If they cannot sellers should consider that when choosing an agent. Would you choose a tailor that could not measure?

Conclusion

In today's hustle and bustle lifestyle, people are looking for ways to better utilize their time. They expect when a home is listed the home listing information is accurate and not manipulated in a way that simply gets them to look at a house they have no interest in. Unfortunately, whenever you have unchecked or largely unregulated systems, there can be a certain amount of deceit whether it is on purpose or not is for someone else to judge.

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue