experts: real estate column Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Realtors find the Web a great resource

Real estate boards in Canada are all online and about 60 per cent of Realtors have their own personal web sites

By Ozzie Jurock

This article appeared in The Vancouver Sun on June 7, 2003

In the future you will make money from information only in two ways

  1. You originate it you are the only one who has it
  2. You interpret it.

Information about real estate just is. Readily available, constantly in our email boxes and real estate websites abound. In fact, cyberspace, virtual reality, megabytes and Pentiums were all terms we didn’t know just a few short years ago. Today, we are bombarded with “web-related” issues to the point where our eyes glaze over: “hey, this was supposed to make it easier.”

It is true that throughout the early 90s only the “techies” understood the intricacies of RAM and ROM, soft hardware issues, hard software issues (huh?) ... but now, everybody is getting on the web. One of the reasons is that prices on Pentium PCs are collapsing; another reason is the ‘real time’ provision of the new media.

There is a bewildering array of real estate oriented web sites. Some simply feature one Realtor’s listing or just a single property. Some of the larger sites have listings only, others feature links to elsewhere. Some sites really only feature a few properties in their own local markets. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the percentage of realtors who believe having a web site and using the Internet has changed the way they do business has increased to 64 percent in 2003 from 50 percent in 2002. 60 percent of realtors have a personal web site. NAR also reported last week, that visitor traffic at the Realtor.com site has surpassed the 5 million monthly visitor milestone, according to statistics released from online traffic reporting organization comScore Media Metrix.

Real Estate boards in Canada are all on line ... go to the Canadian Real Estate Association at CREA.ca and find every Real Estate Board in Canada ... most have the listings of their members displayed.

Or go directly to MLS.ca and get links through to 10s of thousands of listings in Canada and go to Realtor.com and get to a million plus listings for the United States.

We now offer the buyer ‘virtual reality’ 360 degree views of homes take a look at SeeVirtual360.com, or WebView360.com and look at hundreds of properties with 5 or more ‘virtual 360 degree views’ of view, living rooms , street etc. Here, this New World is really as you envision it ... or even better. Virtual reality means what it says ... You feel as if you are viewing reality ... virtually. Zoom in, zoom out and, presto, you now KNOW the area and the house intimately. They are easily bought and incorporated into a website (from $65 to $130 depending on the services offered).

You an also have a realtor selected for you anywhere at WorldWideReferrals.com.

Our Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp has an info packed site at CMHC.ca and you can even find out government land sales sites federally: CLC.ca and/or provincially: srmwww.gov.bc.ca/rmd. Go read up on Landlord and Tenant rights, strata title act issues and over 10,000 real estate related professional realtor, home inspector, appraiser, developer and governmental sites found at Jurock.com/directory.

There are also daily news feeds on mortgage news, real estate news ... daily!

So, information is available. Lots of information. More than we want. But what does it all mean?

As a buyer or seller I want more than just know what is available and where, I want information about the trends, where is the market going? Up or down? How do I write a mortgage or even; do I qualify and for how much?

How do I buy that no money down deal (Bank of Scotia gives first time buyers their cash back!)? Or what does the World Trade Organization ruling mean to BC lumber towns? What, what?

People ask me: “Is technology going to do away with the realtor in the future.” The answer:”No, but a realtor with technology may well do away with a realtor without it.”

Why? More and more people use the net for real estate information. The web identifies leads, news, information, it is a fabulous research tool ... but it does not tell us what it all means. We still need someone to interpret the information. That is why my newsletter is so successful, this is why mortgage websites don’t make much money, but the mortgage brokers (as interpreters) are doing well and that is why well thought out 'professional interpreters' rule.

Let’s face it, which seller in Canmore is going to tell you his house is ‘gas fluted’ sitting on an old coal mine? Which seller in Naramata tells you readily about the water problems? Which bank gives you the lowest interest rate (4.7 % for a five year term today) without you haggling for it and which single website has ALL the answers to the multitude of questions out there.

There is more buyer and seller information now available then at any other time in our history.

Yes, we will continue to research out the information. We may be more educated in terms of what is available and what applies in general terms, but to find out whether Glenmore properties (Kelowna) still flood, the ski resort in Coquitlam will really become a reality, the Olympics will make a difference to values in the Lower Mainland well to all that we still need that most important “interpretation of information” by the professionals ... the realtor, the mortgage broker, the analyst, the forecaster. Oh, how do we find out whether these forecasters are any good? is there a website to research those?




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