Welcome to this edition of the Greg Fly podcast, my excuse for talking about topics I'm interested in. I'm Greg Fleischaker, and today I'll be talking about how most people search for homes for sale in Louisville KY and how they're probably doing it wrong.
Why Louisville? I am a real estate agent in Louisville, Kentucky, with Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty, but if you're listening to this or reading this article, then the points I'm going to make are probably true from city to city, so it doesn't have to be Louisville. That just happens to be where I'm located and what I'll be talking about.
First things first. Most people use a search engine. If we're talking about search engines, we're talking about Google. They dominate the market. A lot of people have a Google account, and so, I would ask someone, if you're searching for a home for sale, if you're searching for anything, really, "Are you logged in to your Google account or are you logged out?" The reason I ask that is because the results you get will be different depending on whether or not you are logged in or logged out. Sometimes it's a little different. Sometimes it's no different. Sometimes it's very different.
Google now uses an algorithm that kind of tracks ... not kind of, it tracks what you find interesting and what you click on, and if you're logged into your account, it'll keep kind of a score of what you like to click on and it will funnel results back to you, factoring in the things you've already searched and reviewed. So it's possible that you could search for homes for sale in Louisville Ky, and those results would come back skewed based upon what it is you've already looked at.
If you have a friend who's a Realtor and you visited their site, Google will take that into consideration when it serves up the results. If there's a Realtor who you hate, but maybe they have the best website or the most up-to-date information, it's possible that that could skew it. So, first things first. Anytime I want a really clean result or the cleanest results I can get, I log out of my Google account so that I get a more straightforward result based on what Google or any other search engine thinks is the best result based on the results and not based upon my activity online. That's number one.
Number two. If you're actually online searching for "homes for sale in Louisville Ky", I would say that your search term is too broad. It's not actually going to give you the kind of information that is helpful. "Homes for sale in Louisville" could go across the board, right? Some of them are going to be many millions of dollars, and it's going to go all the way down to just a few thousand dollars, so if your search really is, "I'm interested in homes for sale in Louisville," you're not really giving the search engines a lot to go on.
If you have an idea of what part of town you're looking in, then you'll get a much more specific result. Think of it as when you're looking for cars. If you just typed in "cars for sale," you might get a two-seater Smart car or you might get results for a Rolls-Royce, and everything in between. Without giving more information, you're really not going to get any kind of information that you can act on. Your search term is too broad if that's really what you're looking for.
One more thing to keep in mind is, most people, when they search on the Internet are in a location where Google knows where you are, and again, this depends on if you have a Google account, if you're logged in, but Google will try to figure out where you are. So if you're in the St. Matthews area, that's where our office is, and you search the terms "Louisville homes for sale" or "homes for sale in Louisville Ky," or however it is that you would put that kind of search in, it's going to try to serve up results that are close to you, because in Google's mind, it's trying to serve up a business to help you meet your needs right now.
So think again, we'll talk about cars, if you're in the St. Matthews area and you say "car mechanic," or you search for "car mechanic" or "car shop" or "car lot," some of the first results that will come up are going to be influenced by where you are physically and will try to serve up a car dealership or a car mechanic that is in close proximity to you. If you can think of the page on Google, that little map comes up and it says, "You're only this far away from car dealer Number One, or A." That's because it knows where you are, and it's trying to give you results based upon that.
I would suggest that searching for homes for sale or if you're trying to find the best real estate agent to work with, being close to an agent when you search online is not the best way to pick your real estate agent. Keep in mind that the search engines are really smart. They're going to figure out where you are, and that will come into play in your results.
There's obviously nothing wrong with looking for homes for sale and looking at websites, but I would suggest when you do, you need to know why you're looking for that search term. Are you trying to find the best service? Are you actually trying to find a Realtor? Are you looking for the best website?
If you're one of the people who like to look at homes because they're pretty, because it's a pastime, because you're just killing time online, then it's just a visual test. What kind of website works for you? You might be interested in looking at Houzz or Pinterest. That might be something that works for you.
If you're looking for a Realtor to work with, it might help to know how you would define what a good Realtor is. Are you looking for a Realtor that really specializes in marketing a property, a Realtor who works with sellers a lot? Are you looking for a Realtor that works with buyers a lot and is out looking at homes frequently and can give you a better idea of what's on the market and how homes might stack up against each other and just a lot of experience going through a lot of homes? Are you looking for a Realtor who's really active in one part of the city versus another? This comes back to really knowing which part of the city you think you're going to be interested in.
Again, when you search for homes for sale in Louisville, are you actually looking for the homes? Are you trying to find an agent that you might be willing to interview? If you're looking for a website that gives you all sorts of information about homes and you're not yet ready for a Realtor to talk to or you already know who you want to talk to but you want the best website, then you really need to have it in mind what features of that website are going to be attractive to you.
When a home comes on the market, say a new listing, and it hits the market early in the morning, do you want an alert to be automatically sent to you? Do you want to have an account on this website so that if something comes up that fits your account ... So you could say, for instance, and I'll just keep using the St. Matthews area, if you wanted something in St. Matthews that had three bedrooms and two baths, was in a certain price range, if the house came up on the market, do you want someone to call you?
Are you more the person who might want to give a fake name and fake contact info, and you'll be okay if someone doesn't contact you, so you just want to go search, do your own thing, and look at the pictures, get the information, but you don't want a Realtor to reach out and talk to you? Again, look at the website in that context. Is this what you want? Does it have the tools that you're looking for?
Something else to keep in mind when you're looking at a website, does that website give you information on properties that have already sold? We can look at this from either a buyer's point of view or a seller's point of view, but in both instances, it's probably pretty important.
If you're a buyer, obviously your first goal is to make sure that you don't overpay for a house. I would suggest that getting a good Realtor really helps with that, but if you're not ready to talk to a Realtor, there are some real estate websites out there, obviously I would consider mine to be one of them, that will give you the information you need to make a lot of good decisions.
If you're looking at a house on a street, and the house next-door is sold and you can find out what the house sold for, and if they're similar, not identical, but if they're similar, you can get an idea of what kind of value people are placing on the neighborhood and the style of the house and the quality of the house. Now, you need to go through the homes obviously, but when you're searching for homes for sale, it's a good idea to be able to access the information of what other homes have sold for.
Likewise, if you're a seller, you need to know who your competition is, and you need to know how long it's taken those homes to sell. It's the same information; it's just used a little bit differently. If you're a seller, you'll probably want this information before your home goes on the market, and so you need to get the information to help you price it.
If you're already to the point of talking to a real estate agent, and obviously you can call me, but if you're already at the point of talking to a real estate agent, then they should be able to provide you with that information but on an ongoing basis. Some of these websites are set up now that you can get a monthly update, or every two weeks, to see what homes in your zip code have sold for, or price for square foot, or how many dollars per bedroom, things like that to kind of keep you up to speed and on top of the marketplace so you really know what's going on.
The last thing, and this really isn't a big one, but the last thing I would suggest when you're looking for homes for sale in Louisville and you're looking at websites and you're thinking about which Realtor you might want to talk to, when you find a website that you like, that has the size pictures that you like, that has the load speeds and all the amenities, you know, can you check what your house might be worth using some of those automated services? Can you check what homes are available in different zip codes? Can you set up your own account? Can you favorite a property? All those things that come with a nice website today. You might want to check and see how often the website's updated.
The biggest problem is that a lot of the really big websites, like Realtor.com, or Trulia, Zillow, they don't get updated very often, and why I say that when people search for homes for sale in Louisville Ky they're doing it wrong is because when you type that in, those really big websites come up often, the top two or three websites, and they don't get updated very often and they have zero local information other than the actual property, but they don't have any expertise on that area.
Realtor.com just pulls listings from all the Realtors across the country. Trulia and Zillow are similar, though they get their information a little bit differently, they're just pulling in the real estate information. They have zero expertise on the area, so I think that's a warning flag.
They also don't update nearly as often as I think they should, so that means that often, if you're interested in a property, by the time you call someone or get a hold of a local Realtor in the market you're looking for, the information that you found on a large national site is out of date. So maybe the house is already off the market or is already under contract, or if you're in a really tight market, you don't find out about a home that's coming on the market until after it's too late. It's already gone. So, when it shows up really early on one of the big national sites, it's already been on, say, my local site for a day, and then it's already under contract, so you might want to know how often a website is updated.
Those are just a few ideas to keep in mind when you're searching for homes for sale in Louisville or any other city. It's not quite as straightforward as you would think. We seem to have made it a little bit more confusing, but find a good real estate agent that you trust. Ideally, they have a really good website.
I'd like to think that I am a good combination of both. If you're reading this, you're obviously on my website. The website's updated frequently. The information's always fresh, and I'm always available to call, contact, email, text. Again, Greg Fleischaker with Lenihan Sotheby's International Realty, and I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.