Like many agents, I buy leads on Zillow. Often, potential clients are frustrated because the property they see is not available. They also think that I am the listing agent, so sometimes I get the brunt of their anger, even though it isn't something that I control.
I'm hoping this post can explain some of the challenges you may be having with online property searches through real estate sites like Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com...
Why do I see a home online, but when I speak to an agent, it isn't available?
Zillow, Trulia and Realtor are real estate databases that collect data from various Multiple Listing Services (MLS). It pulls data from the MLS. They do not create the listings. If an agent doesn't update the property status, it will show as still FOR SALE.
Sometimes, especially in states like NY, where there is a lot of lag time from Accepted Offer to Contract, the seller's agent only updates the "Agent Only" remarks. Zillow does not pull those comments, because it is a consumer-facing database.
Why did Zillow connect me with you, if you aren't the person listing the property?
Real estate agents buy leads through Zillow and other websites. It's how we advertise ourselves and find buyer clients-people we want to work with and help in their search for a home.
When you click the "I would like more information on this property," Zillow connects you to the next agent in line for that zip code.
To be honest, as a buyer, you may not want to use the listing agent. They have a fiduciary relationship with their seller; and, while they can handle both sides, their primary client is always the seller.
Why doesn't the agent I click on Zillow call me back?
I can't answer that question on behalf of every agent, but here might be some reasons:
You don't know what you are looking for. You have clicked 20 properties, in 10 different areas, in multiple price ranges. Agents typically specialize in a small geographic area.
You are not pre-approved. Because you have not spoken with a lender, the agent does not really know how much you can qualify for. Additionally, no seller will accept an offer without a pre-approval letter, so agents think you are not a serious buyer.
Your budget is small. It takes the same amount of time and effort (sometimes more) to help someone purchase a $100,000 home as it does a $1 million dollar one. Time is money for real estate agents. While every buyer deserves whatever house they can afford, it takes a lot of time and energy. Some agents just don't want to take small deals.
However, a smart and caring agent will, because in 5 years you may buy another home; or, you may refer them to all your family members. For a good realtor, no job too big, no job too small.
You were abrupt on the phone. Real estate agents are self-employed, independent contractors. They decide who they will, and will not, work with. If you start the relationship off by being short on the telephone, they may just decide it's not worth dealing with you.
Searching for a new home is an exciting experience! Online tools give the consumer power and knowledge, but it's just a tool. A real estate agent is the other side of the equation.
A real estate agent is more than just a "door opener," they provide background, expertise, help you negotiate, and navigate the legalities of the transaction. The agent works for you. They are on your side.
I hope this information helps you to understand how online home search websites work and how you can make them work for you!