Home/Mortgages/Is That Home REALLY For Sale?

December 15 2010 (Jeff Alan)
So you’ve decided to buy a home. You’ve done all the right things, decided where you want to live, how many bedrooms and baths you want, and you get pre-qualified for a loan.

You’re just about ready to start your search when one day after a long hard day of work, you arrive home and check your mailbox and find your favorite monthly “HOME” magazine. So you decide to take a few minutes, get cozy in your recliner, and thumb through your book of joy before starting dinner.

And then you see it, page 15, the perfect home. You jump up, grab your cell phone and call the listing agent.


You suddenly feel a warm sensation overcoming your body and you feel cheated. Get used to it, it’s probably not going to be the first time and it happens more often than you think.

In fact, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that most real estate agents use is believed to have a significant percentage of homes that are currently listed but not available for sale because the listing was either sold or expired and the agent never updated the listing.

The problem with homes listed in magazines is that the lead time for print can be anywhere from 30 to 90 days so the home could have easily been sold or de-listed in that time frame. The agents who advertise homes in magazines do so because they hope a buyer will call them. If it’s long after the home has sold, they don’t care. You’re a living, breathing and eager home buying prospect. Just the kind of person they want to hear from.

Listings on the Internet fall into the Wild Wild West territory. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it true. There are few regulations governing Internet web sites.

Common complaints about internet listings are: the home is already sold because the listing agent or site doesn’t update the data, or the homes are not for sale because unscrupulous link farms sometime aggregate sold listings or pick up rentals to generate traffic to their site but the homes really aren’t for sale. Sometimes the home is in pre-foreclosure and some national sites list homes for sale on which a notice of default has been filed even though that doesn’t mean the home is for sale or will end up in foreclosure.

One of the tricks that I saw back when I sold real estate is agents who had sold a home and kept the listing active in hopes of getting back-up offers.

Not only does all of this lead to frustration for the home buyer, but it also frustrates a lot of agent too. In fact one agent in Huntington Beach, California wrote on his blog, “So what is causing this problem? Realtors! Unprofessional, deceitful, and lazy real estate agents!! I’m sorry to say this, but there is a high percentage of incompetence in this industry.”

I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who might agree with this.

Tags: home for sale, mls, mortgage loan, pre-qualify, real estate, real estate agent, mls listing, listing agent, foreclosure