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15 Mar 2014
When you look at MLS sites (multiple listing service sites) to search for your home, you probably assume that the information you are looking at is accurate. Think again. Buyers call and email me several times a week asking about information they find on a national MLS site that turns out to be slightly wrong or totally wrong. If you are comparing properties and narrowing your list of homes to look at, wrong information could certainly eliminate homes you would actually like, and could keep homes you would filter out on the list. And one of the biggest frustrations for buyers is large variations in values listed for properties on various national MLS sites. This article will help you objectively get this right.
National MLS sites include sites like Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Homes.com, Realtor.com, HomeFinder.com, BackPage.com, Oodle.com, HomeGain.com, Google.com, RealtyStore.com, Homes.Yahoo.com, Kijiji.com (ebay), eLookyloo.com, and hundreds of other real estate sites where listings can be syndicated.
Here’s what the public and buyers like you may not know about national MLS sites. They are not always accurate, and sometimes the information is terribly incorrect. Sometimes the prices are wrong, the estimates of value are wrong, the specific information is wrong, and sometimes the home is not actually for sale although it is showing as “For Sale” on a national MLS site.
How can that happen? Once I tell you, you will totally get it. Listings originate with a local listing broker. The broker inputs the listing data and photos into the local MLS. Some MLSs syndicate listings to dozens and sometimes hundreds of other real estate sites. While that sounds simple enough, technically it is very complicated. Local MLSs around the U.S. have different software, different data fields, and use different formatted photo sizes. MLSs use what is called an IDX data feed to syndicate, but not all MLS IDX data feeds include the same data fields or the same names of data fields. Some resize photos in different ways, too, which can result in distortion.
On the receiving end of the MLS data, these national MLS sites all have different software also and different data fields. These syndications are all done with software, and no humans are involved. So you have the merging of data from one system to many other national MLS sites that may not match up, and often do not. So you can lose important data, like the property taxes, the actual tax assessed value, the square footage, the acreage, the number of rooms in a house, or the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, whether there is a guest house or not, whether the garage is attached or separate, and so on.
Some of these national MLS sites are pretty and they sure look good, but that doesn’t mean your information is all good. I have a client whose listing shows up twice on Zillow with different values and different information. We can’t get rid of the second one either.
On top of all this, many national MLS sites are illegally “scraping” data off the internet without permission from the sources. This information is then sold to other companies who do not know it is illegally obtained. Then the data is propagated again on other sites, and errors can be repeated ad infinitum.
Now that you know national MLS sites are not necessarily reliable, would you like to use a Sequim MLS site that is 100% accurate and includes 100% of the local listings? This data comes directly from the local listing agents, and it is reliable. You’ll find this site easy to use, and it’s pretty too: Sequim Real Estate. I think you’ll be glad you used this local Sequim MLS site, not one of the national MLS sites.
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