Out-of-date, unreliable — and sometimes fraudulent — home sale websites led Realtor organizations across Mississippi to build a home listing website of their home.
With most of the development completed, the task of the 10 Realtor associations is to establish BuyInMississippi.com as the go-to site for prospective homebuyers. Along with its free-of-charge use, BuyInMississippi’s principal value is its aggregation site of real-time residential postings from the multiple listing services of each association whose chapters cover from North Mississippi to the Gulf.
Lee Garland, a broker at Re/Max Alliance in Brandon, helped with BuyInMississippi.com’s early development and continues to work with the site today. A collective frustration with the out-of-date and often unverified listings from for-profit national sites drove the effort of the state’s real estate professionals, said Garland, a member of the Jackson Board of Realtors.
“We were being bombarded with calls about bad data and the consumer assumed we were the ones putting it out there.
“Some were charging fees for data that wasn’t any good in the first place.
“We felt like it was important for us as Realtors to provide accurate information,” he said. “The only way was for us to provide it directly.”
A two-year site-building effort ensued, according to Garland.
Putting up their own site also gave the Realtors a way to curb an illegal practice called “scraping” by which data hunters would copy the MLS listings and redistribute them across several sites.
Still other data aggregators were getting the listings through syndication and sharing them with other sites.
While those practices are still occurring, BuyInMississippi frees the house hunter from having to guess whether the listing current and valid.
“If a property shows as available on BuyInMississippi, it is available,” Garland said,
It’s a win for the sellers and a time-saver for house hunters, he noted, because the agent’s name and agency will be provided with the web listing. “When buyers make a call on that property they get the agent who knows about it.”
Jo Usry, CEO of the Jackson Board of Realtors, said BuyInMississippi.com will help alleviate a particularly bothersome problem: The incidence of fraud from sites such as Craigslist.
House hunters, she said, are finding properties listed on Craig’s List for rent when they are really for sale.
“A scammer wants the consumer to send money over the internet to obtain the house keys to the house they think they have rented,” Usry said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg about why consumers need to use the Realtors’ broker-neutral website when they are not yet ready to actually contact a Realtor for information.”
Meanwhile, residential real estate organizations around the country are watching to see how the site does, Garland said. “We’re leading the way on this.”
Ahead for the site are additions such as tips on staging your house for sale, remodeling and the like. “We’ll be continuing to make it more user friendly for the public,” he said.
Garland said he expects the number of Realtor associations listing on the website will increase significantly. “We’re growing by leaps and bounds.
“We’ve got the north; we’ve got the Gulf coast; we’ve got Meridian on board. We don’t have Vicksburg yet, but I think they are coming.”
The site is actually an LLC owned jointly by the Jackson Association of Realtors and DeSoto County’s Northwest Mississippi Association of Realtors with 10 participating MLSs in the state.
>>Current associations putting listings on BuyInMississippi.com:
Golden Triangle Association of Realtors
Gulf Coast Association of Realtors
Hattiesburg Area Association of Realtors
Jackson Association of Realtors
Laurel Board of Realtors
Meridian Board of Realtors
North Central Mississippi Board of Realtors
Northeast Mississippi Board of Realtors
Northwest Mississippi Association of Realtors
Southwest Board of Realtors