experts: real estate column Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Old Internet Listings and VOWs

Ozzie Jurock has the best real estate information website, and I donít say that because I am one of his regular contributors.

By Marty Douglas

As published in REM - independent news and opinion for Canada's real estate industry.

Ozzie Jurock has the best real estate information website, and I donít say that because I am one of his regular contributors. At www.jurock.com there is an "ask an expert" page, and when no one was looking, I became one. An expert. Recalling the old definition of an expert as someone from out of town with a briefcase, however, I donít take myself too seriously.

Here's a sample Q&A from a surfer.

QUESTION: Why are Internet real estate listings so out of date? It doesn't make sense with today's technology. You can look on mls.ca, Re/Max, or a particular Realtor's web page and find listings that have not been current for up to several months. I have wasted a lot of time on homes that are not even for sale any longer. Iíve emailed a Realtor regarding a listing, to discover it has been taken off the market or sold, and six weeks later, it is still showing active on his web page ... prompting another email to find out that it is indeed not still for sale. Are there any agents who are known for keeping their information up to date? I think this has become my number one criteria in an agent ... one who lists what is REALLY for sale.

ANSWER: Thanks for opening an old sore point Ė especially with managers. The Internet is the latest area of advertising where attention to detail, or the lack thereof, is on display for the world to see. In my early days of management, getting salespeople to submit current ads, update their ads, change the window displays, and remove sold or expired for sale signs, was a constant challenge. Today we add the Internet.

To be fair, the past 12 months or more have been a very hot market, with listings selling literally before the ads came out Ė even on line. Many advertising functions are handled by administrative staff who may not know when a property is sold. Plus, our duty to the seller requires us to continue to advertise even after a conditional sale is in place, just in case it collapses. With closings taking as long as 30 to 45 days, therefore, you are bound to call or email on ads that are sold, conditionally or subject free.

While this lag time may be frustrating to the buyer, the law and the Realtors' Standards of Practice govern advertising. They require Realtors to cease advertising when they no longer have a contract. If a particular Realtor is violating this rule, a call to his or her real estate board should straighten out the culprit.

When you interview a Realtor, ask how they work, including how they keep you and their advertising current. Many websites now offer an email program, which will send the latest listings directly to you, as they are placed on the MLS. And yes, some of these will be sold when you call.

Final point Ė most buyers do not purchase the ad on which they call. It may be sold or just not suitable. Working with one Realtor will give you the best chance of finding the home you deserve, enabling you to be the buyer, rather than the caller who discovers the house is sold.

Good luck!

Hereís an imaginary Q&A.

QUESTION: What the heck is a VOW?

ANSWER: Youíre not married, are you?

SUPPLEMENTARY: No, seriously.

ANSWER: A VOW is a Virtual Office Website and it has become organized real estate's latest headache. The saving grace in Canada has been the ability to postpone a decision until our cousins south of the 49th decide how they are going to regulate the newest way to make small things appear large. (Thereís an obvious Viagra joke there, but it's too easy.) Recently, Jean Chretien adopted this same wait and see attitude in his approach to the war in Iraq. Who says CREAís political action isnít effective?

With a VOW, an office or a salesperson takes the entire content of the local MLS and pours it into his/her personal site. Supporters reason that the buyer can shop at one site and the seller gets their property advertised in yet another location. Opponents, carefully skirting the competition laws and dodging agency debates, resent the use of their hard-won inventory by a salesperson who can't get a listing. The likely U.S. approach is to reserve the decision of where to advertise for the seller. Unfortunately, the approval could be easily buried in the listing contract boilerplate, resulting in no informed consent, and another agency headache.

If you want a more in-depth review of VOWs and how the Canadian industry is going to deal with them, keep pace through the excellent website, www.realtorlink.org. A recent search revealed nine articles without breaking a sweat.

Marty Douglas is the sales manager for Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd., one of nine Coast Realty Group offices on Vancouver Island. He is a past chair of the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Corporation of B.C. the Real Estate Council of B.C., the B.C. Real Estate Association and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. 1-800-715-3999; fax (250) 897-3933.




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Related Links:

Ask Marty Douglas a Question

RealtorLink

Jurock.com

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