Here’s one reason why you can’t always trust the property photos that listing agents take…
see more Epic Fails
To see REAL photos of properties for sale, click here to check out my Buyer Agent reviews and photos over at FranklyMLS.com. If I haven’t reviewed and taken photos of a property you’re interested in, let me know and I’ll do so.
A big “shout out” to fellow Realtors and friends Frank Llosa, founder of FranklyMLS.com and Jim Duncan, co-founder of Nest Realty Group in Charlotesville, VA. Frank received the 2009 Inman News Innovator of the Year Award. Nest Realty Group received the Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise Award.
Frank and FranklyMLS.com
If you’ve never checked out FranklyMLS.com is, you should. It’s the most up to date and user friendly real estate search site for consumers in the DC metro area (and beyond). FranklyMLS.com is constantly updated directly from the MLS – more so than any other site including Realtor.com (Realtor.com and others can be up to 2 weeks out of date).
The coolest thing about the site is that it allows Buyer’s Agent to post reviews and photos of properties they’ve previewed or shown to clients. In a down housing market where Listing Agents sometimes stretch the truth or Photoshop photos (or not take any photos at all), it’s great to read objective reviews and see real photos.
Other cool things about the site are its cell phone mode, it loads quickly, you can search for homes by keywords, you can easily search for short-sales or foreclosure/bank-owned properties…the list goes on.
Jim and Nest Realty Group
Nest Realty Group joins a small group of non-related brokerage firms across the U.S. that is raising the bar in real estate. From Nest’s “About Us” web page,
Nest Realty is changing the way real estate is transacted in Central Virginia. With the best interest of our clients in mind, Nest is built on a client-centric business model. We believe in engaging the consumer, not selling them. Nest agents are technologically savvy, up-to-date on all real estate trends, and committed to informing clients of every detail of the selling or buying process. This ensures an enhanced experience for buyers, sellers, and agents.
Jim and I have talked many times about how many brokerage firms are stuck doing things the way “they’ve always been done” despite it not being the way it should be done today. I’m fortunate to work with a brokerage firm that already “gets it” and is raising the bar – Market Advantage Real Estate – while Jim and Jonathan Kauffman (the main person behind Nest) started their own brokerage firm that built on a similar premise.
For more about Jim, check out his real estate blog – RealCentralVA.com.
Congrats once again to Frank, Jim and Nest Realty Group!
HomesDataBase.com just announced that they have revamped and launched a new and improved version of their search site (in beta). But how does it stack up against one of my favorite search sites, FranklyMLS.com?
FranklyMLS.com has been blowing away the competition in terms of speed, ease-of-use and practicality. The list of features is awesome and continues to grow weekly. It was one of the first search sites to come out with keyword search function (think "granite countertops" or "bank owned").
You can also quickly see whether a property is a short-sale or not thanks to a " * " next to the price. This is great so you don't waste your time looking through the remarks section of each and every listing to determine whether it's a short-sale or not.
It also has a "cell-phone feature" which allows you to easily browse listings on your PDA while on the go or while sitting in front of a home for sale. The site loads quickly on your PDA and the thumbnails are a perfect size for most screens.
The new HomesDataBase.com allows to customize your search pretty well. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed which makes it easy to keep up with new listings and information from the site. One thing that HomesDatabase.com has that FranklyMLS.com does not is a map feature. Personally, I don't use mapping features on listing sites so I'm impartial, but others may love it.
It took a hint from FranklyMLS.com and created a keyword search feature of their own. But it's not as accurate or effective. The site isn't as quick as FranklyMLS.com, but it does just fine on my home high-speed connection. As for looking at it on your cell phone, you can. But it's by no means as easy as FrankyMLS.com
Overall, HomesDataBase.com has done a good job with its' new and improved site and many consumers and agents will find it very useful in searching for homes and communicating with their clients.
The winner is…
In my humble opinion, FranklyMLS.com still holds the top spot. Why? Because being able to efectively filter through all the "noise" using a superior keyword feature and differentiate between traditional resales, short-sales and bank-owned foreclosure properties is more important to me than than any "cool maps" or way-too-in-depth search criteria most of which doesn't apply to 99 percent of buyers anyway. And I'm on the road a lot so I need instantaneous access to listings and property information using my Blackberry.
If you haven't yet, check out both sites and come to your own conclusion.
If you’re a home buyer looking at properties online that don’t have pictures or a virtual tour available, you’re probably a bit frustrated. Well, this may ease your pain a bit… There is a "Wiki MLS" called FranklyMLS.com that is available to anyone and everyone (not just agents). It allows for Buyer’s Agents to leave their comments/reviews and upload photos of properties they’ve visited.
Most of the properties that don’t have pictures or a virtual tour are bank-owned or relocation company owned so they’re vacant. Because they’re vacant, there is no issue with taking pictures of the interior* as well as the exterior.
*The site only allows photos of the interior to be uploaded if the property is vacant.
And the pictures are hosted on platforms such as PhotoBucket and Picassa, which allow for 30, 40, 50+ good-quality photos in thumbnail or slideshow formats. This is more than most of the big name listing sites such as Realtor.com and HomesDataBase.com that allow up to 30 pictures only even with an "enhanced listing".
The nice thing about the reviews and pictures is that they’re done by a Buyer’s Agent, not the Listing Agent who is working directly for the seller. Buyer’s Agents are not trying to embelish facts or take pictures from the "best angle" in order to market the property for sale. The site allows for more honest reviews and pictures.
The site is fairly new and the number of participating agents is low so not all the vacant properties have been reviewed yet. But it’s definitely gaining momentum, participation and visitors and is getting better as time goes on.
So if you run across properties in Loudoun County that don’t have pictures or a virtual tour available, search FranklyMLS.com for the property and any reviews and pictures. If there aren’t any pictures or a review, contact me and I can go take some for you while I’m out previewing .