Searching All Properties: USCONDEX, Sellsius, The HomeNet

Just a few days ago, I wrote this:

"Regardless, so long as the laws remain friendly to free enterprise, consumers will win this. They always do. And consumers must be able to easily search every available property, just like they search every website with Google. When consumers can do that, it will mean they are being better served - because agents and FSBO companies will then be competing based on the service they provide to the public, rather than on the information they have access to.

It has happened with stock trading, travel, and insurance. The time has come for it to happen with real estate."

It s starting to happen. Comments and news started rolling in almost immediately, from different people saying "we agree - we re already working on it!" or "we agree - we ve done it!"

USCONDEX - The U.S. Condo Exchange

They have a well-done site. It appears to combine data straight from the MLS with listings they accept directly from the USCONDEX website. I m not sure how they got around the MLS policies that prevent doing that, but regardless, they have. They should be commented for an excellent start at serving a niche market. But it is still just that: niche they need to expand their horizons to cover all properties.

Sellsius

The semi-anonymous poster of this comment certainly intrigued me. "RDB" wrote: "i am proud to announce, for the first time anywhere, that our organization has been developing this venue for many months now. our consumer friendly real estate community is called sellsius. our goal is to debut sellsius @ the 2005 TRIPLE PLAY Realtor convention & trade expo. this event will take place in atlantic city, new jersey on December 6.7.8. more information will be available soon."

There is nothing at their website yet, and they won t give out any more information. So we ll wait and see on that one But a word of thanks, RDB, for choosing us to make your inaugural announcement! We re flattered.

The HomeNet

This last one (so far) is by far the most exciting, first of all because it s actually operating NOW, but also because of the innovative approach. They publicly announced their availability this week (look here if Inman story doesn t show), and apparently have built a platform that takes my conclusion that "consumers need to be able to search all properties at once" one step further: their technology allows consumers to search all properties from ANY website. That is, the platform can do it - they don t have all the properties included, yet. Their model of voluntary contributions makes widespread adoption critical for this concept, but assuming the real estate industry embraces it, I LOVE it! I ll review this more, as I get a chance to play around with it.

This is really exciting .it s innovation time at the O.K. Corral!

Do I Need an Attorney?

In a word: Yes.

Even real estate agents rely in closing attorneys to close a real estate transaction. In many states, it s required.

In some areas, there are no "closing attorneys" per se, and title companies are the ones who handle the transactions. Even in these cases, the title company generally uses a staff attorney. You can talk to any decent, local loan officer and they ll tell you who handles closings in your area.

You can do a lot of things yourself and save a lot of money, selling your home by owner. But the closing should not be one of them.

Fortunately, closing is inexpensive - most attorneys or title companies charge just $300 - 700 for a closing. And you would have to pay that even if you used an agent (on top of the agent s commission). It s worth it.