Everytime, every single time I’ve tried to use Real Estate Websites for real-world stuff they come up short.
Searching, the basic function of the Real Estate Website, just doesn’t work.
I want to buy a house in a suburb. Not a unit, not a duplex, not an apartment.
So I search for houses, and blocks of land. And included in the result set is a semi-detached home. How the hell am I meant to bulldoze one of those? Is this ability to call a semi-detached house a free-standing house unique to only one website?
One site, Domain, doesn’t let you specify that you don’t want semis, so, of a fashion they can be excused. Except they’re missing a feature the other sites give you. So, Domain sucks.
The other two sites, RealEstateView and RealEstate.com.au both suck because they include properties I specifically told them to exclude. “Oh,” I hear you say, “it’s not their fault. The agent put in dud data.” This would be an excuse if the listing fees were a few bucks. But for hundreds of dollars, they can afford to have someone on minimum wage spend a few minutes sanity checking each listing, or they can have text matching algorithms running over the listing looking for words like “detached” and flagging that entry for review because “house” listings ought not include the word “detached”. For example. Or, heaven forbid, allow the users of the site to report misleading listings for subsequent correction. That would be nice. No more million dollar homes turning up in my sub-$600K search.
Part 1 of this (rather long) series of rants was sent to all three websites. None responded, other than with auto-responders. They all suck so much!
My wife just had a similar experience looking for hotels in Sydney. Very few web sites few advertised any sort of price, those that did had a very misleading minimum price. Listed phone numbers went to funny places where she would then need to be transfered 3 or 4 times. I guess she could at least find what she was looking for.
For your real estate search sites, and as a programmer, I certainly find it annoying that the developers of these fairly important web sites can’t get it right and that nobody considers this a problem.
I guess that real estate agents are primarily interested in catching the sellers not the buyers. Still if you can make a case that you can’t reasonably find what you want via these web sites but do know such places are avail, then making that case to the advertising real estate agents may get some sort of action though perhaps they won’t tell you about it. If you are just getting a few duplexes mixed in with your results that probvably wouldn’t count much though.
I was just about to send this to domain.com.au. Realestate.com.au, homehound.com.au, all the damn sites fail miserably in a lot of places. I am very GRR.
1. There is a pathetic amount of information about the property listed on the site which means that if I am a legitimately interested party I either have to email or phone or visit the agent. Emailing is the most convenient for me since the information I require covers usually 5 or 6 points (eg what floor is the apartment on, what does the strata say about pets, how many square meters is the apartment – very basic questions but I would assume commonly asked questions and more than likely all listed in the contract that the agent would have on hand). Often the information on someone else’s site is exactly replicated on domain – which makes all sites below average in terms of information distribution. You’re supposed to sell the property – SELL it. Give me all the information I need to either cull it or put it on my shortlist.
2. The agents do not reply at all (this is true for 90% of the emails I am sending)
3. The email goes to someone who has no idea and cannot be bothered forwarding my questions to the appropriate agent and tells me to go to the inspection (impossible at the moment since I am interstate – and in principle I am not going to organise an inspection when the property fails the most basic of my criteria – if that information is made available to me). I don’t want to go traipsing all over the country just because the agents are too damn lazy to respond to anything except phone calls. And If i DID call – am I going to wait on hold for half an hour while they get the information together ? I don’t think so.
4. The property has been sold and the listing has not been updated to note this.
I have used these sites “contact an agent to request more information” functionality approximately 60 times in the last 4 weeks or so and I have received ten responses. Of these, only 6 gave me all the information I was asking for (why would an agent “not know” the by-laws regarding pets or the square metres of the property? that is just pure laziness). It is extremely frustrating especially since when I review the properties I was enquiring about the properties are still listed on the site weeks later. Are they dummy properties ? Or dummy agents ? If not – I was the owner of the property I would be extremely aggravated to find out that legitimate enquiries about my property were not being answered. I am about to rent out a property and this whole experience is turning me right off having an agent in any way involved.
I am not going to bother making an inspection only to find out that the property does not allow pets or is the size of a bathroom even though their lovely photos make it to look the size of a penthouse.
Searches are bad at the best of times and when you consider the pathetic amount of information the agents actually enter in they are pretty much doomed to fail no matter what funky algorithm is used. If theres nothing to search you will find nothing.
I am a programmer as well and it just craps me off that the agents seem to be wrecking what could be a damn good way for buyers (and therefore sellers) to locate properties they are interested in… and then progress down the purchasing path. Domain etc should make more of the information mandatory (why would you “hide” how big your house/apartment is ? youre just going to piss someone off because they actually have to ASK for the information – whats the good of a listing if it doesnt give you the whole message – are they trying to trick people into coming to look at the place and then be blinded by the agents amazing selling power to the failures of the property ?
I duno. Im angry. I am about to spend a lot of money – if someone will give me the information I need to make a decision. Specs, dimensions etc are part and parcel for any other site selling any other wares, why not property.
Oh BTW I totally agree with you that million dollar properties should not be returned in my search for sub 300K properties. That is just stupid. I’m just currently angry with agents… but i agreed with you about everything else too 🙂