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7 May 2014
This article is about how to find a home, or how not to find a home. If you are a buyer scouring Internet sites to look at homes in Sequim, and if you are smart and doing your due diligence on values and other data available on a home, let me share some inside Sequim information that can save you a lot of time. More importantly, I want to save you from using sites with grossly insufficient data.
Elsewhere on this blog, I write about how to find a home, what free sites to use, what free software to use, how to find accurate information on a Sequim home, how to determine fair market value, how to compare prices, and I share key links to help you.
But we all love to do our own thing, and it’s human nature to try to re-invent the wheel. I get that. That’s me too. People asked me a lot about certain websites, like Zillow and Trulia.
Some clients have told me that they use Zillow to find home values in Sequim. Here’s what they don’t know. The Zillow database is incomplete in Sequim. Let me explain. Zillow is adding to their database daily, but Zillow prioritized major metropolitan areas first, and they’ve been working on building complete databases on millions and millions of homes in the major urban and even in the major rural areas. Sequim is off that beaten path. Way off. A few years ago as I analyzed Zillow, I found that only a very small percentage of the homes in Sequim were in their database. Since Zillow software crunches the numbers on comparable homes to arrive at what is a reasonable market value, if Zillow only has 10% of the homes in a area in their database, any data on a particular home will be woefully incomplete. Zillow could be right about the value of a home, or Zillow could be way off on the value. Also, if you are looking at active listings, a client told me yesterday he found a listing on Zillow that actually had been sold two years ago. At this point in time, Zillow is fun to use and cool, but it is not a reliable source of value (or active listings) in the Sequim area. My guess is that it may take Zillow three or more years to complete the database in Clallam County.
Craigslist is very popular in Seattle and other metropolitan areas, but it isn’t used nearly as much for real estate in Sequim. You’ll see some listings on Craigslist, but they are entered sporadically, and Craigslist is not used by a lot of the senior population in Sequim to promote their homes. Craigslist is more popular in farm country to buy and sell animals than it is real estate, but it is not much help when it comes to how to find a home in Sequim.
How to Find a Home on Foreclosure Sites
Another big site where people will search for homes is Foreclosure.com. I use this site myself, but here’s what you need to know. Foreclosure.com does not have a contract with the Clallam County Auditor’s office, which means they do not have the foreclosure data that is recorded in the county. Surprised? It’s true. I spoke with the founder of the company three years ago, and explained to him that their data does not include actual foreclosure recordings in the county, and he said that they have prioritized the metropolitan areas around the country, and he said they do not have a contract with Clallam County, so they have no right to add the Clallam County foreclosures to their database. If you look at their site for Sequim and Port Angeles, there will be a list of alleged foreclosures, but these are not necessarily foreclosures at all. Their database is actually pulled together from loans that are in default. Banks and mortgage companies sell that information to a lot of people and organizations, and Foreclosure.com posts that information. That’s what you’re looking at–homes that are in default with a mortgage company or bank. After a while, some of these will also go into foreclosure, but this database is not what you think, at least not in Clallam County. It’s like the Zillow database. It’s incomplete and unreliable.
Many other real estate portals have gathered information from various Internet resources and pulled it together in a nice format, but again this data is unreliable. Remember, all of these online sites have their own revenue model. They all must make money, and so they build huge sites and hope to get a lot of eyes so they can make money selling banner ads and Google ads. The data is not necessarily reliable and it is not necessarily from an original source. By the way, another big reason some of these sites exist is to try to get Realtors to buy advertising space on their sites. Many of these sites are not much help when it comes to how to find a home. It may surprise you, but most of these sites do not derive any income from you the consumer, and therefore, these sites are not built for you. Most of these sites are not much help when it comes to how to find a home in Sequim.
Trulia is Cool But Not Reliable
Trulia is another popular site, but again it is more reliable in metropolitan areas, and a major part of their business model is pushing services to Realtors. For example, some listings that still show up on Trulia as though they are still for sale have been taken out of the MLS, have been sold or expired, and yet they show up on Trulia for months, and in one case I found a listing on Trulia that had been off the market for almost two years. Trulia gets a lot of syndicated listings from local MLS sites, but all of the software is automated and no humans are involved in monitoring individual listings. If you want accurate listing information, go to my Sequim MLS site below, not on a generic website trying to make its money from Realtors, banner ads, and other services.
How to Find a Home – Recommended Free Online Resources
Let me save you hundreds of hours of wasted time and effort, and more importantly, let me share resources that are actually reliable and from source data. These links on How to Find a Home are good links.
How to Find a Home on the Sequim MLS with Advanced Searches and Map Searches (Several Articles)
There’s one more resource that I know from experience can be very helpful. As you’re doing your research online and before you arrive in Sequim, you will have questions. You may wonder about a particular listing that has incomplete or missing photos. You may wonder about an area, or about our septic systems or wells, or CC&Rs, or any number of things. You can email me and ask those questions with no obligation at all. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 360-775-5424. I’m easy to reach, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know about how to find a home in Sequim.
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