OK, so now that you are approved for a mortgage, time for step two. (what do you mean you didn’t get approved yet? Go here and read.  http://heronhomes.com//first-steps-to-buying-a-house/ )

In my book, The Warren Buffet Approach to Sell Real Estate, I devote an entire chapter to “Real Estate Greed”.  I probably should have included another source of greed that is hidden, Real Estate Search Portals. I’m sure you have seen them, Zillow, realtor.com, Trulia, are the biggest ones but they all work basically the same way.

When I go into Wal-Mart to buy something I know, as soon as I walk in the door, that anything I buy from Wal-Mart they are going to make money on it.  That’s ok, I know there is no other reason for Wal-Mart to exist other than to put money in the pockets of their shareholders.  I know this; it’s the American free enterprise system at work.  I don’t expect them to just give me stuff for free and I don’t have a problem with it.

It’s not a problem because they don’t try to hide that fact.  If I go to a used car dealer I know he’s trying to make a profit off of me by selling me what I want.  Even when I go to the dentist I know she is only fixing my teeth because she want’s my money, no problem.

Where I do have a problem is with companies that try to be sneaky about it, one that suckers me in by offering stuff without any real benefit to me, just so they can turn around and sell me to some other company, They don’t literally sell me, but sell all the information they can gather about me to someone else, behind my back, without my permission, and not even have the decency to tell me that’s what they are going to do.  On top of that, most of them don’t even provide me with accurate info about the houses they have on their sites.

According to WAV Group, a data research company, “found that about 36 percent of the listings shown as active on Zillow and Trulia were no longer for sale in the local MLS”.   “That’s over 1/3rd of what you are seeing.  So, the question is, what do these companies do if they don’t provide accurate info about the houses that are for sale?  The first step is to realize that YOU are the product they sell.  They sucker you in to registering on their site, record what you are searching for, and then turn around and offer to sell you and your information, to real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and anyone else that wants to pay them for the info about you…

If you are willing to pay for it, you can “buy a zip code” and everyone that is looking for houses in that particular zip code will be turned over to the “owner” of that zip.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want calls, or emails, from some random idiot that just bought my info from someone else and now suddenly has “just the house you’ve been looking for”.

Another way this practice is just not right, is the way they sell advertising to agents.  Believe it or not, as an agent, you can pay to have your photo placed right next to another agents listing so that it APPEARS that listing is yours. So, as a customer, you may think you are dealing with the agent that has that house listed when in fact you were tricked into calling a different agent that PAID for those websites to trick you.

If all that weren’t enough they add one final insult.  The more people they trick into logging onto their website, the more ads they can show you when you get there.  Don’t be suckered in by them!

I hate it when people complain about things but then don’t have any answers that are better so here is my recommendation.  Go to one of the local MLS searches, here is a link to them all in one spot. http://heronhomes.com//search/ .  Those sites are only homes listed by Realtors.  fewer ads, less fluff. (and yes, “fluff” is me being nice.)  Also, check out the HUD repo link on that same page.

Those sites allow you to search by price range, area, number of bedrooms, etc.

When you are ready to actually start looking at homes pick out one BUYERS AGENT and go through them.  Let them track down info for you, be sure the house is still available, and set up appointments to look at houses.

What’s a Buyer’s Agent?  Good question, and we will go over that soon.  Why you need one and why you should NEVER call a listing agent, ever.