On Easter Sunday, I was thinking how buyers searching for a home is like an Easter egg hunt. Home buyers today are having a tough time finding a house due to limited inventory. Kids also struggle trying to find Easter eggs. My family hides eggs so well that they must expend serious effort to find them. This photo is of my great niece and nephew, Alexa and Jordan. You can see in the bird cage hanging in the tree there are a few easter eggs hidden inside. They are getting ready to hunt!
Buyers are often looking for homes on Zillow or driving around looking at for sale signs. There are many ways to look for homes for sale, such as the MLS. Experienced Realtors may have a few off-market properties that with careful searching they can uncover. This is why I say buyers searching for a home is like an easter egg hunt. The homes are sometimes hidden out there so you just have to look much deeper than just Zillow or Craig’s list.
Some might argue it’s because it let its monopoly go to its head and invariably some other business gained a foothold and isn’t letting go. I have no idea. I just know that most of the home buyers I talk to do not use Realtor dot com to search for homes for sale in Sacramento.
The best place to get your homes for sale in Sacramento is from your own Sacramento Realtor. That’s because Realtors have online access directly to the mothership, our MetroList. You can get listings from a public website via MetroList MLS but it won’t be as detailed or customized as you can get from your own agent. Plus, some of its information in the listings are cut off, like my name, Elizabeth A. Weintraub, for crying out loud, because certain MetroList fields are not designed to handle very many characters. I’ve put MetroList on notice; it doesn’t change.
You also can’t find a Realtor at Realtor dot com. Well, you can, but it will take you forever. For starters, fill in Sacramento for the search field city and Realtor dot com will tell you there are 2,027 Realtors in Sacramento. Then, hit the search button and Realtor dot com will bring up 3,438 Realtors. Does Realtor dot com know how many Realtors are in Sacramento? Can you rely on the homes for sale search link if it can’t get one simple search field right? Not to mention, many of the random names and links that appeared when I tried to search were entries without a photo of the Realtor. Not very enticing.
Zillow and Trulia have the pizazz, and no matter what a Sacramento Realtor tells a buyer and no matter how many private emails a Realtor sends, a buyer’s curiosity will almost always win out. They can’t help themselves. They have a computer or an iPad or a mobile device and they will search for homes online with or without an agent. They might hope there could be that one **special** home that is not listed in the emails from their agent. There might be. Especially among the Coming Soon homes in Zillow.
But eventually, those Coming Soon homes will go online and they’ll get the listing from their own agent. Because most homes for sale in Sacramento generally end up in MetroList.
Every so often I’ll get a Sign Call. This is when a buyer passes by a home for sale in Sacramento, spots my real estate sign and calls me. I have so much information on that sign, and so many ways to get instant data without calling that I’m always astounded when buyers call. They can access a virtual tour by texting a code from the sign, or taking a photo of the QR code or by calling an 800 number. They can call the big honkin’ telephone number of the closest Lyon Real Estate office, prominently displayed. They can call the first agent listed on the sign rider, which is one of my Elizabeth Weintraub Team members, always ready to show homes. And, then, they can call me, the listing agent. I’m like the bottom of the barrel.
I wonder why they aren’t looking online. I wonder if they are working with a Realtor. They ask me for the sales price and I ask if they’re looking for a home. They say no, they are not. I share the sales price with them and then they ask for the square footage. I ask if they want to sell a home, and they say no, they do not. Then they ask for the number of bedrooms. Finally, after I am drilled with a series of these types of questions I ask why, why do they want to know? What possible difference could it make in their lives to find out the number of bedrooms in some home when they are not a buyer nor a seller, and apparently don’t know anybody who is?
My own Sacramento listings on Trulia are tangled up and a mess. Still, I am excited about the news of Zillow to acquire Trulia. I’ve talked with customer service reps who seem to be following a revolving door and nobody has been able to fix the problem. In some instances, I can’t feature my listings as a special promotion. Some of the other problems are:
- Photos and marketing comments vanish after a listing moves into pending status
- No conformity among links to property sites
- Status modifiers are not active on all listings
- Photos uploads are slow and clunky
- Updates are not immediate and require 24+ hours
And that just breaks the surface. So, if you see that stuff on Trulia, don’t blame me. At times I may need to perform manual manipulation of my listings into Trulia if I want them to appear on my profile at all, but I’m not really complaining. Sometimes, I get clients who gripe and want to know why real estate agents don’t routinely try to update data on other companies’ websites but we don’t own those websites. They are owned by corporations. They may supplement our business a bit and provide a friendly service to the public but they are not our personal websites.
Some real estate agents around the country are freaking out over the intended purchase, they are not happy that to hear Zillow to acquire Trulia. They believe Zillow wants their jobs, their companies, their business and is out to slice their necks off like the top of a pineapple in one fell swoop. Zillow is not King Kong and we are not Jessica Langs. Paranoia has its place — why aren’t they more worried, for example, about Google world domination? BTW, you notice that nobody is talking about Realtor.com. Does anybody even use that website anymore?
I just go about my business, selling homes in Sacramento as a Sacramento real estate agent. If I had to pick a favorite website though, it would be Zillow, even though its computer-generated Z-estimates cause my clients so much frustration — because it makes my job even more important. It’s not a conflict. I bring extreme value to the table. Real estate still requires a human touch and expertise.
When an agent asked me that question yesterday, I immediately suggested he look in Zillow. I was being facetious, of course, but he didn’t realize it because I made that suggestion by projecting a lot of excitement and enthusiasm in my voice. I can’t help it. I have fun at work; and I like to make people laugh. Except the agent didn’t laugh because he didn’t know I was joking. I mean, let’s face it, Zillow is the last place for any reasonable much less professional real estate person to look for a market value, but that doesn’t mean the public doesn’t go there because they do. The professionals, on the other hand, use MLS for comparable sales to determine market value.
But it’s such an innocent question, an outsider might presume. How much will the seller take? It is . . . for a person who is not a real estate agent. And I suppose that question is OK for an agent to ask as well if they can get an answer. As my husband is fond of saying: a guy can ask 10 women to go home with him at the bar and the first 9 might slap his face. But that 10th . . .
I asked the buyer’s agent why he would ask me, the listing agent, because I am not the seller. I don’t make decisions for the seller and all that I really know for certain is the seller will accept list price. Not to mention, it’s a breach of fiduciary to utter any kind of different answer.
Well, he didn’t want to “waste time” writing an offer the seller would reject. What? Isn’t that the name of the real estate game? An agent writes an offer on behalf of a buyer and a seller either accepts, counters or rejects? And there is one way to find out what a seller will do, too. If you want to know how much the seller will take for that home, there is one sure-fired, tried-and-true-method to get that answer. You write a purchase offer and send it to the listing agent.