Do I Really Need To Use the MLS to Find a Home?

Aren't Newspaper Ads, Home Magazines, Large Internet Database Sites and For Sale Signs Enough?

The answer to this question is absolutely Yes and No.

  • Yes; if you're really looking to find a home you need to use the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).
  • No; ads, Internet databases and signs are not going to give you the true picture and can waste your time and money.

Once again, the MLS (multiple listing service) is a database of all properties listed through real estate brokerages. The MLS is the only source that offers completely updated information.

When a property is listed it must be entered into the MLS within 72 hours. Same thing for any changes in status such as Contingent (on anything), Deal Pending, Closed, etc. A lot of the large Internet resources such as Realtor.com and Homes.com do not update their information to keep up with MLS updates.

Here are the different sources and why they aren't the best ways to find updated property listings:

Newspaper Ads

Many brokerages do not advertise properties at all or maybe they'll rotate different properties. You will never get the entire inventory of properties for sale in a newspaper classified ad page.  Agents that continue doing print ads are actually advertising themselves and their brand.

Internet Sites

As I mentioned above, large real estate portals do not keep their databases updated as they utilize information from so many different MLS sources throughout the country. I have received phone inquiries about properties that were sold and closed over a year ago. You'll be spending a lot of time searching through properties that are long gone.

In fact, many people have wondered why a particular property was listed at such a low price compared to other homes. It was because it was sold in a different year when the prices weren't as high as the current inventory. In my opinion, this is such a waste of time and actually gives buyers a false idea of pricing.

Other Internet sources such as advertisers that carry both print and Internet ads don't seem to update their Internet portion. I have placed ads in a home magazine that included automatic Internet ads and have received calls from the Internet ads long after I stopped publishing the magazine ad as the property was sold. I certainly don't mind getting these calls as I can hopefully find another property for the buyer.  But when buyers keep finding that these sources are not updated they learn not to use them.

Home Magazines

Although these are a bit more updated than Internet sources, home magazines in the Chicago suburb area require a two week advance for publishing. Any property that is priced correctly can sell much quicker than two weeks. So if you only rely on home magazines you'll be losing out on the best values.

Not to mention the fact that much information is left out and you have to make multiple phone calls to find out location, price, etc. Most buyers find this out very quickly and give up using these magazines or only use them as a back-up source since they do offer pictures.  Again, most agents use print advertising for personal branding purposes and don't expect to sell a home from them.

For Sale Signs

This is the worst way to find properties for sale. Many home owners do not want me to put a sign up so you'd never know that a particular home was even for sale.  There are a lot of condominium and townhome complexes that do not allow signs at all. Most condo buyers find this out quickly and move onto other sources.

Many agents do not use SOLD riders on homes that have an accepted contract so you'll be calling on properties that are no longer available for showings. I'll explain this in more detail in another FAQ.

With the cost of gasoline today it is very unwise to try to locate signs in different areas, as I'm sure you'll agree. This web site is designed to give you everything you need to know about purchasing a home, including full MLS Search and an Automatic Home Finder Service that are both free and will provide you with properties in your area, price range & with your desired amenities plus keep you up-to-date via e-mail.

No phone calls, no driving around (unless you've found a property address that sounds good to you) and no wasted time searching for properties that have already been sold.

If you find a property you're interested in give me a call at 708-536-8200 or use my Contact Form.

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