Unfortunately, most listing websites out there feature inaccurate information. Today I want to talk about how you can avoid being misled by them.

Today I’m joined by Amy Schafer, our lead buyer specialist, to discuss something that applies to you whether you’re a buyer or seller: website warnings.

When we talk to both buyers and sellers, one of the first questions that we ask is how they find their homes. More than 90% of people nowadays start their search online, with Zillow and Trulia being two of the most popular listing websites. When we list a house, we send that listing’s information to roughly 300 different websites.

While all this exposure can be a great marketing tool for sellers, it can be counterproductive for buyers to search all these different websites in the hope that they’ll find a different listing they haven’t seen before. What happens when listing information is exchanged between so many online sources is similar to the game of telephone you probably played in kindergarten—**the actual information gets diluted to the point where whatever ends up on Zillow is wildly inaccurate and highly unreliable. **

A key factor you should be wary of when it comes to this is timeliness. In our market, homes can sell very quickly. Many times, we’ve sold a house before its information even reached Zillow. If you’re relying on a site that’s even further down the line than Zillow, you may end up chasing a home that’s already been sold.

“Don’t get caught chasing phantom listings.”

If you frequent Zillow exclusively, don’t trust their Zestimates—they tend to be inaccurate because they’re determined by a preset algorithm rather than current market activity. You’ll also see a lot of what we call “phantom listings.” For example, they’ll list a home on there as a pre-foreclosure and act like it’s for sale, but in reality, it’s only an indication that a seller has simply missed a payment on that house, and it’s not actually for sale.

Where should you go for your real estate information? Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you should always go to experts like us. We have a brand-new website called www.sarconeteam.com that’s updated daily with a hot sheet of new listings. We also have some mobile apps that are available for you to download.

For buyers, another great source of information is the MLS, which we use during all of our buyer consultations. That way, when we have a property that matches your criteria, we get notified about it right away.

If you have any questions about this or any other real estate-related topic, please feel free to email us or give us a call. We’d be happy to help!