Using the Internet to Buy Your New Home

I have recently been enlightened on how grossly inadequate many of the home viewing sites are and how misleading they can be.

Maybe I should have known this before, but frankly, those sites rarely come into play in my everyday life. I use the mls and clients use me. I truly haven’t considered until recently how people use the internet in the home buying process and why they do that.

Now that I am viewing the world through your eyes a bit, with the help of my most recent clients, I would like to “give back

42 thoughts on “Using the Internet to Buy Your New Home

  1. Ardell:

    Thanks for the insight — very helpful. Perhaps you could include a link to your site so readers could jump to your page. You’re right, not every search engine shows “Offer STI” listings. One question: what does “STI” stand for? Thanks.

    FSBO Law Blog

  2. STI stands for “subject to inspection”.

    Essentially, this means that an offer has been agreed to but the buyer has a limited time to get an inspection and pull out should the inspection turn up something they don’t like.

  3. Ardell,

    I’ve been snooping around the two search site, and I must say that RCG’s search beats yours in some major ways. The “RSS thingy” is only a minor part of his search and in reality it can be used to do all the searches that your site offers (including homes that are subject to inspection).

    Have you played with Google Earth? (If you haven’t you really should as it is amazing AND free!) The search tool exports any search to Google Earth! I simply love being able to search around the homes in Google Earth and turn on/off coffee shops, gas stations, parks, etc. to get a feel for the different neighborhoods.

    In addition, you can sort on things like “$/sf” and search by home “remarks”. All VERY cool features that simply aren’t available on other home search tools!

  4. I get it now — thanks for the clarification, Dustin. So the benefit of “Offer STI” listings is mostly educational for the prospective buyer — the property itself is under contract and therefore, at least right now, not available for purchase (someone, please, correct me if I’m still off base).

    FSBO Law Blog.

  5. Right, STI means it’s under contract, not available for purchase, until if/when the inspection contingency is disapproved.

    RE: Using “Caffeinated Software” v.s. Logical Dog. Unfortunately, most agents have no control over who gets them their MLS feed. The NWMLS only allows the designated Broker to sign an agreement with a third party to provide computer services. The Broker of the company decides who they’re going to go with. In my case, my Broker signed a contract with Logical Dog years ago. I’m stuck with using their search. Can’t help it. Can’t change it. I think mine is pretty much like Ardell’s, except I’ve added a “quick-search” option to view my preferred geographic area: Seattle Dream Homes Search. My company, CBBA, however, has a little more interactive-type of map search. I think this must be a little beyond Logical Dog’s capabilities, they must have hired someone else to do this: CBBA Search.

    In Logical Dog’s defense, however, I think the gal who runs it, Jan Chapman, is self-taught and I think she did a pretty good job for someone who’s just making it up as she goes along. It’s easy to forget how new a technology this all is….. We’ve only been using computers about 20 years now, so of course there are going to be bumps along the way.

    Robbie, the way to get more agents to use your software is to go directly to the brokers. There are still so many real estate companies that have static webpages (if any at all!). They’re the ones you need to talk to…:)

  6. Marlow,

    I believe, both John L Scott & C.B. Bain uses another local company Real Tech for their main site.

    Also in Logical Dog’s defense, having spent the past couple of months working on “Caffeinated / Rain City” search, I can imagine how difficult doing standard home search site is for somebody that doesn’t have a software background. For example, one annoyance I had when developing the site is that images from the MLS are not in a standard size. So I had to write a page that does dynamic image re-size on the fly. Granted, it’s not hard, but it’s code that you have to implement in order to be taken seriously. I also admire the fact that they do personalized sites for their clients instead of the “frame-ware” that Superlative, appears to do. However, it’s my understanding Logical Dog is more expensive than Superlative, but Logical Dog is a company who’s success I wish to emulate.

    However, I spent over 10 years at Microsoft and having been attached to computer keyboards since the days of Atari & Commodore. I should be able to do this kind of stuff while sleep walking. I know what’s involved to keep up with the Zillow’s & RedFin’s of the world.

    You may be surprised to know that you probably can change. In my case, the agent I was working with to get my data feed was a CB Bain agent. Although, she eventually went with Superlative, it wasn’t until after I got my MLS feed from CB Bain, and after I had already developed the guts of the site you see today on Rain City.

    You may want to contact the IT person in your office about what’s involved (who in all honestly, may or may not know). Your correct in that your broker has to provide access to computer consultants. However, since your broker is the one that provided my access originally, I suspect it can be done w/o much trouble (at least in your case).

    If your interested I’d be happy to send you a copy of my Form 110 (NWMLS download agreement). After which, you probably need to forward it to Dennis Holland & Ben Nordlander of CB Bain’s IT Dept at their HQ on Mercer Island for approval.

  7. Hi Robbie,

    Sorry I didn’t see your comment up there. Was rushing to get the entry done this morning and then was tied up most of the day. Mondays are a bear!! Even holiday ones like today. Tomorrow will be worse when escrows open and mortgage companies. Lots to do in a short week. I’m also trying to hook up with a Staging Company for the storefront. Meeting tomorrow.

    To your question, I just like that mine updates every 15 minutes and I can click on Kirkland and price range and go. It gives me accurate info. Sometimes it takes forever for some of the major sites to catch up, as if they have an overnight download instead of a 15 minute sweep.

    The ones that are “bad” in my opinion are the ones that show property without a status noted, just to get buyers to call. Clients call me and say, how about this one? They saw it on another site and think it is for sale. I can’t tell you who does that because of my “inside” position, I’m not allowed. But it really burns my butt.

    Quite obviously I need a site. That one is just a quick site because I pointed my (which is mine as an agent) for the company to use temporarily. Now that I bought the domain I have to take it back and join them together. Can I get Google Earth on my personal agent site Can I connect the blog to the site better? Jan just “attached” it for me with the big block button temporarily.

    I obviously need help 🙂 I like Jan, but I have been reluctant to go past the quick start site because I couldn’t get her to work on a lot of things I find less than satisfactory. Her system doesn’t manipulate much as to presentation. But I do like that she keeps me in compliance with the mls “rules” that keep changing.

    I’ve never searched property through Rain City. Will go try it now. Is that “your work”?

  8. Oh no, Robbie!! You are on the “bad boy” lame list!

    Go to Kirkland $900,000 to $900,000. That house is NOT for sale (it was a hell of a steal, underpriced IMNSHO). OMG!

    Redfin doesn’t show it at all, they drop everything off they can’t just “write up” for 1%.

    Why do you show STIs as if they are for sale, Robbie? Say it ain’t so…

  9. No, no, not the lame list! :0

    I really should put a big BETA accross the top of the site, since it is a work in progress. (despite some of the unique features it does have)

    Anyway, my site updates every 30 minutes. I could update it more often, but I figured 30 minutes is a good trade off between having current information vs. having my server wasting it’s cycles when nothing changed.

    MLS updates are kind of ‘chunky’. There will be times when nothing changes for hours, and then the clock strikes 4 PM and 400 new properties come in and 200 disappear into the bit bucket. But yeah, sometimes things slow did a little bit.

    Not having the status was an ommission on my part, and if you look at property details, you’ll notice that I now do include the status. Should we add have the ability to search for the status or put it on the search results page? I’m making it up as I go along, so I’m open to anything.

    Rain city search is “my work”. I developed all it from scratch with lots of TLC & SQL. 🙂 However, there’s so much more I want to do with it. I won’t be done, until Zillow & RedFin have a bidding war over me (I’m dreaming, but if you’re going to dream, dream big). 🙂

  10. The 30 minutes is fine Robbie. It’s not a race. I only like the 15 minutes because I can enter a listing in the mls at someone’s house, and then show them their listing “on the internet” before I leave the listing appointment. We can upload the photos together. This way the seller is more involved in the process. They can see all of their cleaning and staging efforts were worth it! But I can talk to them for an extra 15 minutes 😉

    Searching by status would be PRIMO! No public site has that feature, that I know of. Of course we do. Have Anna show you (or some other mls friend) the map feature. I use that all of the time. I wish a public site had that ability. All that flying makes me airsick 🙂

    In the mls, I just draw a box around the area and hit submit and I get all of the properties located in the box. The other feature I use a lot is radius search as in “I want to see all property within 1/4 mile of this one (by mls # or address).

    A map search and radius search would be great! Most people don’t know all of the neighborhhod names, the way mine expects them to.

    Your presentation is Primo! I met with Jan about the font and colors of things, and the limitations were not acceptable. I want mine to say Call Ardell to see this home with my phone number right there, and I don’t want it in fade away gray lettering with 8pt font.

    I’ll go see what you changed.

  11. OK, use this as the test before it goes pending Robbie. Kirkland from $900,000 to $900,000. That should say Offer Subject to Inspection.

    I further suggest you put “Call Anna to see this house today!” on the Actives only and not on the STI properties. That will help people notice the distinction. On the STI’s you can say “Call Anna if you want to know if this one comes back on market after the inspection”. Something like that.

    You are in violation of some rules regarding acknowledging the source. You need the mls trees, I think or Courtesy of John L. Scott. Look at my site and see what it says there. I think mine has both the trees and the courtesy acknowledgment.

    Kim (the Broker in my bed) tells me the mls sent out a huge warning about “written” permission now to advertise. They are really cracking down on the rules right now, so be careful…BETA or not. I think Anna will be the one to be fined, and not you. They had a big “emergency” meeting about it and came up with…as my main man Bill Maher would say “NEW RULES!”

  12. Ardell:
    If you look at the details page for the property, you should notice that..

    It does say subject to inspection and it also credits the NWMLS and the listing broker (Re/Max) at the bottom of the page. The layout of the details page is pretty bad right now, so it’s probably difficult to notice, but it’s there.

    Anyway, I don’t know the old rules (much less the new ones), and I’m sure my future clients would appreciate it if the sites I develop are compliant. If there are any gaffs, let me know.

    Can you e-mail me a “Call Anna if you want to know if this one comes back on market after the inspection

  13. Pretty sure status and the courtesy acknowledgement of source have to be on the “first peek” page. Status may not me an mls requirement, but it’s a credibility factor, so I’d move that forward as well.

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