Most days I find myself searching the local MLS on behalf of my home buyer clients for Silicon Valley real estate. Sometimes it’s houses in Los Gatos or Saratoga or Campbell, other times it’s condos or townhomes in parts of San Jose like Almaden or Cambrian – or anywhere in Santa Clara County. No matter where or what I am searching, though, I often find mistakes on the multiple listing service. It seems to me that many home sellers never check the MLS for errors.
Although once in awhile it’s a humorous typo or problem with the language that results in a verbal misstep (think “walk in panty” instead of “walk in pantry” or “walking closet” instead of “walk in closet”), other times it’s actually something substantial. If that happens, it could cost you!
I’ve seen errors in the number of bedrooms and bathrooms – a 3 bed, 2 bath house which showed on the MLS as a 3 bed, 1 bath house. I’ve seen errors in the lot size (6000 sf lot reported when the actual size was almost 10,000). And with duet homes or town homes, I’ve seen the type of ownership misrepresented as condominium when it should have been PUD – the latter happening just this week. I’ve seen things overstated, too – as in a small house with “storage” space represented as “living space”. You really do not want to misrepresent the house and over promise and under deliver.
It’s just too easy to make a mistake. When we enter listing information online, it’s mostly a series of check boxes. Check the wrong box, or omit the right one, and you have an error.
How do the MLS errors happen? How can you check the MLS for errors?
Sometimes the county records or official public records are inaccurate for the home size, lot size, number of bedrooms, or other features. it’s imperative to review the county records at the very beginning of your listing period, before the home is even on the active market, to have the time to find and fix incorrect property records. (When there’s a problem, often the city or town has correct info, but it hasn’t filtered to the county – and the county is the agency which feeds info to the MLS as well as to Zillow, Trulia, and other sites.)
In a hot market, mistakes may not be such a huge deal, but the thing is this: we just never know. What if instead of one offer, you could have had 2 or 3? Once you get multiple offers on your listed home, it’s a completely different situation than having just one bid.
So my message to you, Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. Home Seller, is this: go over your real estate agent’s MLS input as soon as possible. Ideal would be to know before the home is on the MLS at all. What I’ve begun doing is compiling a list of features (such as is the stove gas or electric?) and using that list of amenities for the flier, the online ads, and the MLS description. This has helped to get things as accurate as possible up front.
You want to sell your home for top dollar and so does your listing agent. You know the home better than he or she does, though, so please, please check the MLS for errors. Ask to see the multiple listing printout as soon as your home goes on the MLS – OR SOONER – and ask your Realtor or other real estate sales person to correct any inaccuracies ASAP. And while you’re at it, have a look at the photos and make sure they are OK, and the flier wording and images are up to par, too. Every once in awhile, things get mixed up between listings, so another set of eyes is always a good idea.