Why Online Property Listing Websites Aren’t Good for Prospecting Properties

Why Online Property Listing Websites Aren’t Good for Prospecting Properties

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Real estate has changed drastically thanks to a growing number of online companies. These startups impact investment actions like how you get a loan, how you manage your tenants and especially how you find a property. With sites like Realtor.ca, you can browse listings in your area, find prices, see pictures and contact agents in the comfort of your pyjamas!

Table of Contents - Why Online Property Listing Websites Aren’t Good for Prospecting Properties

As a Canadian real estate investor, you’ll soon have even more opportunities to find new properties online. Recently, American real estate database giants Zillow and Redfin have announced they’re arriving in Canada. Zillow announced in June 2018 it would now feature Canadian homes on its site through Century 21 Canada. In January 2019 Redfin announced it is launching nationally and establish brokerage service in Toronto and Vancouver.

No online listing can take the place of a thorough walk-through of a prospective property. Before you start saving your online favourites and contacting agents, keep the following factors in mind.

Online Listing Property Websites are marketing tools

The goal of multiple listing sites is ultimately to sell a house. The realtor or homeowner is not incentivized, to be honest about any negative features the home has. They can include however many pictures they want and can take pictures at angles that hide any flaws.

Sites like Zillow earn money from Realtors posting their listings; the site’s goal is to get you to contact a realtor for lead generation. The listing just needs to look nice enough that you’ll contact someone!

Infrequent updates

Realtors are often listing properties on multiple sites and may not be updating each listing as soon as the status changes. A property you love may already be off the market. When you try to contact the agent about the specific property, often it's already sold. Also, that Realtor (and many others – see below) will try to sell you other properties you don’t want.

If you find a prospective home online, research whether it is still for sale before contacting anyone. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a property you cannot purchase.

For the most up to date listing information use realtor.ca.

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Your information is given to other agents

Sites like Zillow are paid lead generators for real estate agents, who work on commission. Once you submit your interest in a property, you may hear from several Realtors who have been given your information as a possible lead. This may connect you with a fabulous agent who finds your next property. But, be aware that your information is being shared with more than just the person you think you’re contacting.

Inaccurate house prices

Because online listings are marketing tools that aren’t always accurate, the prices can vary by thousands of dollars. Even if you’re just browsing to get a sense of local prices, know that the site may be wrong. Don’t use commercial sites to gauge the value of your property. Instead, research with local government to learn more accurate home prices, and work with a professional appraiser.

Poor sense of space

Photography is not great at conveying how big (or small) a room is, or how the kitchen flows to the dining room. A floor plan might be helpful if included, but nothing can replace moving through the property yourself to determine if the layout makes sense. Always visit a listing you’re interested in before you even think about moving forward with an investment.

Unable to determine the quality of materials

Are those real wood floors, or vinyl? It’s hard to tell in a poorly lit picture, and the listing makes no mention. A physical inspection gives you a sense of the quality of the materials used in the home. A physical inspection also helps you get a better sense of the condition of the appliances. Lastly, an inspection can help you determine whether any critical repairs may be needed in the future.

Hard to gauge neighbourhood personality

The listing mentions a nearby school, and when you look on Google Maps you confirm one is close. But how close? Visiting the home can tell you that the playground is closest, recess is loud and parents use your street for pick-up. Maybe the pictures of the listing are lovely, but nearby homes are unkempt. A visit to the neighbourhood highlights nearby amenities (and drawbacks) and gives you a sense of the area’s personality.

Where can I find online listings?

Great question! Here is a list of the top online listing searches in Canada. Be sure to follow the guidance in this article to help minimize your risk.

  • Kijiji
  • Realtor.ca
  • Zoocasa
  • Rew.ca
  • Homefinder.ca
  • Zolo.ca
  • Purplebricks.ca (for sale by owner)

When you’re ready to search for a prospective real estate investment property, stick to tried and true methods. Visit the area, hit the pavement and look for properties for sale. If you're looking out of your area, partner with a trusted real estate agent familiar with your needs. This Realtor can do the legwork for you. Before you invest in any property, always make sure to visit it first—multiple times!

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Scott Dillingham

Scott Dillingham

I have been investing and lending to real estate investors for nearly 10 years now. After thousands of successful deals between flips, rent to owns, student properties and commercial assets I have developed a deep knowledge of real estate investments and have a passion of sharing this information with the world! If your looking for a lender who specializes in rental property financing you're going to want to connect with me at team@lendcity.ca.