Searching the Sequim MLS or the Port Angeles MLS, which is the Olympic Multiple Listing Service, is unreliable, which means you might not find what you are looking for because of incomplete or inaccurate data. Most people do not know this, so let me explain. Then I’ll give you a partial answer to the problem. [By the way, many Realtors have not thought this through either.]
There are three reasons the database of real estate for sale is not accurate in the MLS:
1. Not all agents enter all data accurately;
2. Not all agents enter all the data on each of their listings in the same way;
3. The MLS data input sheet is not perfect and creates some divergence in how the database stores information and the expectations of consumers when they enter search parameters. (I’ll explain this.)
If you are a buyer searching for your ideal home or land in Sequim or Port Angeles, you need to know that the database is a great source of information, but it is not perfect, and you may miss that ideal property, or several of them. Here’s a brief explanation of the three reasons. (For sellers this is also vital information, because your primary task is to connect with buyers, and you can’t do that if the buyers don’t know your home’s features because they can’t find your home in the MLS. This is another reason I do more on the Internet than any other Realtor in Clallam County.)
Not all agents enter all data accurately. I have seen this many times. Let’s admit it. Agents are human. I know, there are plenty of jokes about real estate agents, as there are about lawyers and used car salesmen. The MLS data input sheet is quite lengthy and detailed. Not only do agents make mistakes, but believe it or not, there are lazy agents, too.
Not all agents enter all the data on each of their listings in the same way. How many times have I looked at listings, even for the same listing agent, and found dramatically different data. Sometimes the name of the development is included, sometimes not. Sometimes the street address is included, sometimes not. Sometimes the lot number is included, sometimes not. There are probably a couple of hundred input fields, so there is a lot of room for inconsistency here.
The MLS data input sheet is not perfect and creates some divergence in how the database stores information and the expectations of consumers when they enter search parameters. Sometimes the folks in programming are not of the same mindset as the agents working on the street. The data sheet we fill out as Realtors is not necessarily what we would create in a perfect world. But it’s more than that. For the sake of brevity, one example here. A client told me last weekend she searched the MLS by checking the “water view” option. She also searched the “mountain view” option, and she searched the “water and mountain view” option. The last option does not include the properties in the first two. You would think it would, but it does not. You get three different results, or property lists, although not completely different, because there is some overlap. The result is unreliable or inconsistent with what consumers expect.
Conclusion. If you do a very careful search of the MLS with specific parameters, and if you expect to find that ideal property, think again. That perfect property may not show up in your various MLS searches, but it may actually be out there . . . somewhere.
Partial Answer. I have written elsewhere that it is important to find a competent and experirenced Realtor before you start looking at properties. Why? Because a good Realtor will know the market, and can help you find that needle in a haystack that you might otherwise never find. Anyway, as a buyer, your Realtor doesn’t cost you a dime. The seller pays the commissions. You gotta love that! More importantly, you want to be certain you find that “one” property perfectly suited for you and your family.
Last Updated on July 16, 2008 by Chuck Marunde
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