While all of this is wonderful, there's one big problem with many of these sites... Their data is old. (Insert dramatic pause.) How many times have you clicked on a home, or sent it to your agent, only to find out that it's actually under contract? How many times have you inquired on a property only to find out that it sold two months ago? I know, it's frustrating! In a market where homes are selling quickly and time is of the essence you need the best possible data, delivered as quickly as possible.
Where to get Better Data
The data that we agents put into our MLS gets syndicated (shared) to Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, etc. So then why is going directly to the MLS any better? I'm so glad you asked! Each third-party site has its own technology which means that sometimes property status's don't update property (or at all), upload times can have a lag (meaning other buyers see the homes before you do!), and also don't syndicate coming soon listings.
One important thing to note: even listings directly from the MLS can have errors in the property data. This happens for many reasons - sometimes it's a simple typo or other accidental error. If any of the details look fishy, make sure to have your agent confirm the items in question.
Aligning yourself with a REALTOR© provides you unlimited access to the MLS. The MLS (Multiple Listing System) is a database system that real estate agents use to input listing data. Did you know that there are different MLS's all over the country? Our area is serviced by BrightMLS. While Bright does cover a large portion of our state it does not cover all cities; for example, it doesn't service the Richmond area. You can see a full list of participating associations and their covered counties by visiting BrightMLS's website (or asking me!). While some agents do have access to multiple MLS feeds, many belong to a single system.
The Best Kept Secret
Some agents take advantage of a lesser-known listing option called a "coming soon" listing. Generally, these are properties that are still getting market-ready however, they can be listed and shared in the MLS for up to 21 days prior to going active. These listings are golden opportunities for buyers on the house hunt! As mentioned previously, these listings do not get shared to third-party websites, so only buyers receiving listings directly from a real estate agent will have a chance to see the listing while in this preview status.
Although these homes can't be toured while waiting to go active, the listing will provide a date the home will be available to show and we can pre-schedule a showing or discuss putting in an offer site unseen! You can also drive by, check out the neighbors and the home (from the street). We may also be able to find old listing photos to help provide an idea of the home's layout.
So Let's Recap
At the end of the day, while you progress through your house hunt in the Fredericksburg area you'll need to stay ahead of the curve. Getting signed up for MLS-direct listing alerts should be a top priority in your home buying checklist.