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Online Platforms vs. Real Estate Agents: What Works when Buying a New Home

Online platforms allow us to experience convenience when buying low-risk products such as books and groceries. Because of this benefit, other industries started adapting to the same approach, even for big-ticket items, including real estate.

Sites like Trulia and Zillow allow you to search for a property listing and narrow it down to the house you want, all without the help of a real estate agent.

But is this a safe approach? Even if you're confident about this method, are you sure you're not making things harder in the long run?

Choosing between online platforms vs. real estate agents when buying houses boils down to which one will benefit you the most.

Which is Better: Online Platforms or Real Estate Agents?

To help you better gauge which option to choose, here's a thorough comparison:

Availability

One of the most significant advantages online platforms have over realtors is that listings are available 24/7. You can shop around for houses any time of the day.

Another great thing is that most of the properties are available for repeated viewings with virtual 360° tours. You don't have to wade through traffic or endure terrible weather conditions to inspect the houses. With travel time out of the equation, you can check prospective homes faster and cross out those that don't match your preferences. You can finish all this in just one or two sittings.

Although, checking out a property online, even with a 3D viewing technology, is still incomparable to being there physically. Browsing listings over the internet can indeed save you an immense amount of time in weeding out some listings. However, the pictures and videos you see online won't provide you with an authentic feel of the property that an actual viewing can.

On the other hand, real estate agents don't have the same availability as an on-call doctor. Realtors need to juggle their schedules to accommodate their clients. Regardless if an agent works with a team or independently, they still can't match the speed that a virtual viewing can offer.

Comparison

Comparing properties using a digital platform can quickly provide you with much detailed information. A typical property listing has the following:

  • Floorplan
  • High-quality pictures
  • Detailed description
  • Dimensions of each room

Most property pages will allow you to request a video walkthrough aside from the uploaded virtual 360° tours. Since most information about the house is available for everyone to view, there's more transparency. You can compare multiple properties from the same area or different uploads of the same place from various realtors.

Even with all the information you can find on online platforms, they still don't size up well with Multiple Listing Service. More commonly known as MLS, this powerful tool is exclusive to real estate agents. MLS is an insider tool that alerts agents to crucial things like open houses and new listings. The majority of real estate transactions are time-sensitive, and MLS puts you in the right place at the right time.

Convenience

Digital platforms give you the freedom to browse and research listings any time that's convenient to you. You can even take a walk around the neighborhood using Google Street View.

If you're buying a property abroad, you'll enjoy the convenience that online platforms can provide. You can check properties without having to waste time and money to inspect them physically. Some online portals even educate you on country-specific property laws.

However, apart from the convenient initial research that online platforms provide, listing sites still have a long way to go. You can't expect them to handle the complexities of real estate transactions for you. When you work with real estate agents, you can get help in identifying the after repair value (ARV) of the property and in communicating with loan officers.

Trustworthiness

Will you trust just about any broker with your expensive house purchase? You don't usually need the same level of trust when booking hotel accommodations online, especially from known companies. However, having a random internet broker handle the transaction can be very uncomfortable when buying properties.

For most individuals, real estate is the most expensive transaction they'll ever make, whether buying or building a house. Most buyers and sellers still prefer delegating the process to a trusted person they've met face-to-face. Recent studies show that even with the emergence of chatbots, 87% of consumers still choose to interact with humans.

Location Expertise

When it comes to street-level knowledge, online realty sites can't beat the level of expertise local real estate agents have. They know the ins-and-outs of the neighborhood and other micro details that influence the local market. These local agents drive through and walk down the streets of your target neighborhood, something that their online counterparts can't do.

Replaying video clips will not help you know the kind of neighborhood where the property sits. Even if the online broker asks the site's realtor directly, answers may not be too specific. Most buyers still prefer to work with a local agent who knows the quality of schools in the area or any upcoming commercial developments.

Experience

Another edge that real estate agents have over online platforms is their experience in negotiating better deals. They also have the right connections that help in a smoother transaction. Their network can include lenders, attorneys, and home inspectors.

Compared to online sites and brokers, real estate agents constantly monitor fluctuations in the real estate market. These variations don't only occur on a national scale but also happen right down to the municipal level – each having intermittent fluctuations.

From minor price shifts to significant changes in interest rates, agents can inform you of all these. As a result, you'll gain valuable insights into the proper timing to buy your home.

Leverage Both Sides When Buying a New Home

An online platform has capabilities that you won't find in real estate agents and vice versa. The best approach is to allow both of them to complement each other in helping you search for a new home. You can use online platforms to narrow down your house search and have your real estate agent help you handle the complexities of buying a property.

Get the best of both worlds by finding your new home at Oberer Homes.

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