Saturday, November 2, 2013

Inaccurate Listing Information

When I meet with new buyers, I tell them to avoid using third party real estate advertising sites like Trulia and Zillow in their house hunt. These sites obtain their information through a listing distribution system. The sites have plenty of misinformation, which is frustrating to the buyers and can even cost the seller a sale opportunity.

For example, a large percentage of the listings shown on these sites are already under contract or have already sold. Some of the houses are not for sale and never will be. The sites will list properties for which a notice of foreclosure sale has been recorded. The house may eventually auctioned for cash, as is, on the court house steps, but it may not. A buyer who needs a mortgage and wants to see the house before buying it will not be able to buy it.

Because anyone can post to these sites, scammers will steal the photos from a legitimate listing, post it for sale or for rent at a price that's too good to be true, and get prospective buyers or renters to send personal information and deposits to the scammers.

These third party sites are unconcerned with the inaccuracy of their listings. I have a listing with one full bath and two three-quarter baths, which is a bathroom with a shower, no tub. Harmon Homes has it listed as having a full bath and two half baths, which is a powder room with no bathing facilities. I wrote to Harmon Homes and told them to correct this. Their response was that this has been a problem from the beginning, and most people don't know what a three-quarter bath is anyway.

These sites get our listing information for free, and then try to sell it back to us. Next to my listings on these sites, you will see the photos and contact information for three Tucson agents who aren't me. Buyers are encouraged to call those agents for information on my listing. If I want buyers to call me for information on my listing, I have to pay each of these websites hundreds of dollars each to have my contact information next to my listing.

The Austin Association of Realtors has decided end their cooperation in this misinformation scheme.