The Problem with Real Estate Listing Sites

Public real estate listing and brokerage websites – including, but not limited to, Trulia, Zillow, and Redfin – have revolutionized homebuying over the years, for better and for worse.

On the one hand, homebuyers can use many of the tools offered by these sites to get their foot in the door when it comes time to start the homebuying process; they’re great for getting the feel for the market of a neighborhood or city, and can help put curious buyers in contact with capable agents. All of that is worth applauding!

Expert Tip: Contacting these sites directly about viewing homes can cost you the representation of your own real estate agent and/or can cost you actually money out of pocket. Talk to your agent before you request info from one of these third-party sites!

With that said, like all tools, these sites aren’t without their own set of limitations.

Most often, we see buyers bump up against the limits of what these sites can actually accomplish when they attempt to use one to supplant or replace their real estate agent, often by attempting to find additional homes beyond what their broker is presenting them with.

We understand the impulse! It is your home search, after all; why wouldn’t you want to find every option possible? We get it, sincerely. But we also get that seeking out listings on these brokerage sites can actually be counterproductive to your buyer’s journey overall.

To help explain why you should trust your agent to send you properties, rather than relying on a third party real estate website, let’s shed a little bit of light on how these sites work:

What You Need to Know About Redfin, Trulia, Zillow, and Other Sites 

Ask three different people how they’d see their Chicago “dream home,” and you could well get three different answers. For one, the perfect slice of Chicago may be a Gold Coast penthouse with views of the lake. For another, a cozy converted two-flat with a detached garage is the way to go. For the third, maybe the goal is to one day buy a Chicago-style bungalow, with an unfinished basement perfect for a major renovation project.

The point? No two people are going to have the same perfect property. Everyone’s tastes are going to differ, both in terms of what they want in their dream house, and what they really need. Identifying the difference between these two categories early on is one of the most important steps that you can take at the start of the homebuying process.

Dreaming Big: Don’t Be Afraid to Brainstorm

Photo credit: Bryan Hayes via Flickr

Even among the many eclectic, ever-changing neighborhoods that make up Chicago, Albany Park truly stands out.

For example, where else could a casual stroll walk you past delicious restaurants, serving up everything from world-famous falafel to authentic tacos to absolutely delectable Korean meats and veggies? Where else could you take in works like those of the Albany Park Theater Project, an incredible year-round theater with a social justice bent, creating art for young people, by young people?

One of 77 officially designated community areas in Chicago, Albany Park is located on the northwest side of the city, bounded roughly by Montrose Avenue to the south and Foster Avenue to the north. We’ve barely scratched the surface about everything that Albany Park has to offer. To explore the neighborhood further, here are a few resources worth checking out:

Interested in buying or selling a house or condo in this hotbed of cuisine, culture, and commerce? Here are the Albany Park market conditions you need to know right now:

Flickr User Chris Potter/

Hiring a real estate professional you trust is no easy feat. Even asking friends and family for recommendations can leave you with a list of 20+ names. Where do you go from there?

Narrowing down the list can be a challenge, but it is a necessary process. Your real estate agent performs all negotiations on your behalf. You want an experienced and respected negotiator on your side, who similarly is able to articulate the process for you and thoroughly answer any questions you have.

Your vetting process can easily help determine these. Before you shake hands and start signing paperwork, ask your prospective agent these seven questions.

1. How long have you been in the real estate business, and how frequently do you conduct business?

You may be able to glean this information from websites like Zillow or from your prospective agent's website, but this is important information to know. Work with an agent with full-time experience upward of a year.

We emphasize full-time, as many agents can hold on to a license without much real-world experience. Valuable real estate experience is only earned through actual transactions and activity in the field. Don't put your transaction in the hands of "part-time" or "occasional" agents.

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