What Homebuyers Should Know About Online Property Portals

If you’re like most buyers, you probably started your home search online. What you’ve found, however, may have raised more questions than answers. That’s because various consumer-oriented portals operate in very different ways and produce very different results. Understanding the nuts and bolts of how listings are published online will help you gain access to the most complete and accurate information. 

The Syndication Process

A seller’s agent starts the home marketing process by creating a “listing” that includes key details and selling points, as well as photos. This information is usually entered into the local multiple listing service (MLS). All agents within that MLS share access to the most current details on every listing and may, depending on rule requirements, republish listings on their own websites.

Because seller’s agents want their properties to be seen by as many consumers as possible, they typically use syndication services to republish listings on various consumer sites. Even though the listing agent created the original content, their ability to control future updates may be hit or miss. Additionally, some consumer sites sell listing information to other sites, in a process called resyndication, creating further distance from the original source.

Improving Your Results

Portals are hungry for as many listings and as much content as possible—that’s how they attract visitors. But they may be less interested in, or capable of, keeping their content up-to-date. As a result, buyers often find properties that are no longer available for sale or otherwise inaccurate details, such as estimated values.

The solution? Work with and rely on a source who can offer the most current and accurate information. Your buyer’s agent has real-time access to the most complete inventory of homes for sale, along with the timeliest details on prices, market status, comparable sales, etc. Many buyer’s agents can also give their clients access to proprietary tools that provide emailed updates on qualified properties.

If your only option is a portal, rely on realtor.com®, which is more closely integrated with the MLS system than other property sites and does the best job of providing consumers timely, accurate listing data.