Craigslist.com and Google.com have changed the way consumers buy real estate. There are some that believe this could alter the realtors’ functions on home selling and buying. Google is testing their new tool to sort though home listings. Craigslist home listings rose to 335,126 in March, which is triple the previous years numbers. Other services such as Trulia.com and Oodle.com and Propsmart.com also offer free access to listings. The sites on Craigslist and Google have the potential to change the way customers search for real estate. This, in turn, is going to affect advertising dollars in other media, such as newspapers and television.
Craigslist is the most popular listing source for rentals and jobs. Google had 89 million searches in February. They have the potential to also draw large numbers of home sale listings.
As home sales slow down, an increasing number of discount realtor brokers are looking for customers. The Justice Department and FTC are investigating industry practices that deter competition.
Realtors fear that the new sites will encourage sellers to stop using realtors and sell their homes themselves. This, in turn, will lower agent commissions.
Craiglsit’s CEO, Jim Buckmaster, sees the move as just making more information available for consumers. “The information isn't something that should be controlled or owned by brokers," Buckmaster said. "It's going to eventually happen. You can mark that down as done. It's just a matter of when."
There are fears that buyers and sellers will deter the sellers, and make information that used to only be available to realtors available to consumers. Realtor.com does not list homes for sale by owner, only homes with agents, but other sites do list for sale by owner properties.
"As a buyer, you want to see everything that's available," said Ron Hornbaker, of Propsmart Inc., which owns Propsmart.com.
ForSaleByOwner.com, one of the largest sites, estimates that it has 10% of all owner listings. While Craigslist and Google won't be comprehensive, their size will likely attract more listings. Neither organization, Google nor Craigslist, charge fees.
Realtor.com still has a huge advantage, with 3 million listings. Realtor.com gets listings from nearly all multiple-listing services. The National Association of Realtors says about 13% of home sales last year were For Sale By Owner listings.
In November, Google began allowing consumers and businesses to directly submit content such as real-estate listings for inclusion in some Google search results through their new service, called Base. In March, Google began on a test basis allowing consumers to narrow their results.
Many of the ads on both Google and Craigslist are for homes whose owners have realtors. But others want to save those commission fees.
By Patricia Fuller
Real Estate Press