Realtor.Rock: Navigating the Web, and having a buyer’s agent in your corner

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Realtor.Rock is a bi-monthly column where local Realtors share their expertise on real estate matters.

This week’s interview is with Jeff Hill, a Realtor with RE/MAX Property Source. He can be reached at (815) 489-3401 or (815) 315-2626 or by e-mail at

Why would you want to register on a local real estate Web site? is an advertising site owned by a company called Homestore and, while it’s licensed to operate using the Realtor name, it is a for-profit company that has yet to turn a profit…forever squeezing out pennies and irritating the agents and companies that it is charged with helping. The properties are used to draw you in so that they can build ads around the listings… this makes the site painfully slow. Although some recent changes have been made, is an opt-in site that is missing lots of data…it is notoriously out of date and doesn’t let you know if a property is under contract…creating an unfriendly and tiresome home search.

Eventually, as you get more serious in your home search, you will want to “go local.”

Most people don’t understand why agents ask them to register on their sites to get more information about properties for sale. The truth is that we don’t need it for our own listings, or even those of our company. The problem lies with showing you other companies’ listings.

In order to address this… two options were developed; IDX and VOW.

IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange. This is an opt-in system. No registration is necessary. The listings that you are looking at should say something about “compliments of” the listing company. This is kind of like walking into my office, plopping down in a chair and going through the various homes magazines…it’s fun, there is great information, but it’s lacking in depth and missing a bunch.

VOW stands for Virtual Office Web site. This means that I can treat you like the person who walked into my office asking about homes…meaning we plug in your criteria and go through the whole Multiple Listing Service so that you don’t miss anything, except that you get to do it in your own sweet time. The great thing about a VOW site is that you get access to all of the properties…there is no “opt-out” for the real estate companies, and you don’t have to wait for days to get the updated info. Some of us can also allow access to recent sold properties. … The VOW solution is the ultimate in home information, but it comes with a price. The National Association of Realtors has set a national policy that all VOW sites require registration.

So, there you go….

It’s not a matter of you giving up your anonymity…it’s about empowering you with information for you to enjoy some autonomy. The payoff for us is that we hope you grow comfortable with us and our services, that over time you decide we are the “right ones” to help you with this process.

If not…you can always unsubscribe…I promise, I won’t hold it against you.

Why would I use an agent to buy a home?

Traditionally, in what I like to call “old school” real estate, all the real estate agents represent sellers. Even YOUR agent was working for the seller…not you. But now, as a result of new agency laws, consumers have a choice: buyer’s agents who represent buyers. That’s a big difference!

A buyer’s agent is bound by law and ethics to work solely on behalf of the buyer, and provides levels of support and service not given by traditional agents. And, best of all, it costs the buyer nothing extra.

Consider this: if you call the agent of a particular property, you’re calling the person hired by the seller to get the highest price for his property. The seller’s agent has a vested interest in selling that property, and no allegiance to you.

A buyer’s agent, with sole allegiance to you, has access to all properties on the market where he/she is licensed to show and sell. You have a professional advocate and representative helping you every step of the way throughout the entire buying process…working only for you!

Your buyer’s agent is paid a percentage of the purchase price by the seller, so it cost you nothing extra. This percentage would go entirely to the seller’s agent if you were not represented, and your sales price would not be reduced.

Very few people are aware of buyer’s agency, but now that you know. Doesn’t it make sense to have your own buyer’s agent?

Please visit my Web site for more information on Northern Illinois Real Estate at: There, you can search properties, see current market conditions, and view my blog.

James Frazier is the owner of A Defined Design-Professional Home Staging Service. He can be reached at 815-997-3212 or through his Web site at

from the August 8-14, 2007, issue

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