The first stop for anyone looking for a new home in town—or for anyone who is even mildly curious about what properties are currently available—is the local real estate listings. Like those you find here on my site, today’s online real estate listings are updated regularly all across the internet. It’s a coordinated system that appears deceptively simple on the surface, bringing you what you ask for from within the mind-bogglingly vast amount of detail that encompasses all the properties being offered throughout the country at that moment.
When a prospective buyer goes online to get a feel for the area properties being offered, the real estate listings she or he sees appear to be straightforward enough. The information is clearly formatted, presented in a way that makes it easy to compare with other properties’ attributes. That apparent simplicity might be a little bit misleading, as anyone who has recently put their own home on the market knows.
Before any listing goes online, all the property’s physical details have to be determined and verified. It’s your agent’s job to make sure the paperwork is complete—including the legal documentation that says, yes, this property is for sale at this amount. The 2015 NAR® handbook on multiple listing policy fills 152 pages for good reason. ‘Under the hood’ of the neighborhood listings is the structure of legal agreements that stitch together the cooperative framework that enables the smooth functioning of the modern real estate industry. Stripped of all its legal bells and whistles, it’s really an agreement among brokers and agents who agree to the way work will be apportioned and commissions shared.
As you might expect, those 152 pages also cover some special kinds of real estate listings. Homeowners, for instance, can create local real estate listings that are not made public. This is done when the seller withholds consent for a listing to be published with the MLS compilation. Although that might seem to be a particularly bad idea—like a candidate running for office who decides it would be a good idea to keep his name off the ballot—there are circumstances when it makes sense. Such ‘office exclusive’ listings can serve a useful purpose when maximum confidentiality is important. Celebrities and other public figures sometimes use this approach, as do sellers who’d rather not publicize their plan to jump ship until it’s a fait accompli.
All this is made as simple and straightforward as possible for the benefit of all. If it were too complex, sellers and buyers would hesitate to get involved. The market would suffer. In fact, today’s town listings—especially as they are presented online, on sites like this one— represent a standout example of how technology can make even complicated commercial undertakings easier and more efficient than they have ever been. To find your next home, for instance, you need only check out the current area listings, and then there’s only one other thing you have to do: call me up!