Searching Homes Online
I was recently searching homes online and came across a website which gave me no cost access to the Toronto MLS, well at least access to the listings of homes for sale. The website was easy to use and also explained how this database of listings is superior to the public MLS (realtor.ca) in two significant ways. The first was that this database of listings contained 100% of the available listings on Toronto’s MLS, whereas the public MLS may only contain 50% to 70% of all available listings at any one time. When I read this I realized that in the past when I was looking at listings on the public MLS I thought I was looking at all of the homes within my home search criteria but I wasn’t. This is important to know when searching homes online for obvious reasons. The second reason is that the lag time between the Toronto MLS and this data feed is little to none, whereas the lag time between the Toronto MLS and the public MLS could be anywhere from 1 to 3 days, believe it or not. For these two very important reasons, the MLS listings which I was given access to, is superior to the database of listings on the public MLS. Finally, I was looking at the same group of homes for sale that licenced realtors have access to and all I had to do was register by giving my name, email address and phone number. This information is required by the Toronto Real Estate Board when access is being given to the Toronto MLS database.
This kind of data feed is called VOW access, standing for virtual office website, and allows realtors to show MLS listings on their websites with no restrictions or filters on the listings which get displayed. The information on these listings is very similar to the information one can see on the public MLS but formatted differently. One of the other advantages of searching for homes on this website is that you can be confident that the listings you are looking at are for sale. Of course, you can never be 100% sure but these listings get updated when or very close to when they do on the MLS itself so you can’t really get much better than that when searching for homes online. Often times, websites like craigslist, kijiji or even real estate agents websites contain listings for homes which have already been sold. If you have ever found yourself in this situation then you know what I mean when I say this can be very frustrating. You don’t really have to worry about that with this website or should I say this VOW data feed because it pretty much is the MLS from what I understand. There are various realtors who offer this VOW access to the MLS on their website but the website I went to was searchtorontorealty.com. On this website you there is a search box a little bit downward on the homepage underneath the featured listings section with the rotating pictures. Alternatively, you can access these listings from the home page by selecting listings in the upper menu and then choosing MLS. This is where it explains the database and how the database of listings on this website is superior to the public MLS.
In summary, not all listing databases are created equal and knowing what database you are looking at online is very important if you want to get the full picture of what homes are out there for sale. I wanted to write this so that I could share what I have found with those who are searching for homes online and want some guidance. If you wish to access Toronto’s MLS as I did click HERE. Otherwise, good luck on your home search.