Alexandria VA Homes for Sale: First Time Buyers: I Promise I am NOT Hiding Homes from You

First Time Buyers: I Promise I am NOT Hiding Homes from You

man shopping for housesWe all suffer from information overload at times, I imagine.  

Consumers, especially first time home buyers, must feel equally overwhelmed with the plethora of information out there as regards the process of home buying.  

Everyone has an opinion and seemingly, everyone wants to be sure you see it!  

So, what's a home buyer to do?  So many sites, so many sources, so many agents, so many houses...who to trust?  Who to listen to?  Which site to use?

It's no secret this industry suffers from what some like to say is a "low barrier to entry."  I don't think it's a coincidence there is a direct correlation between virtually no barrier to entry and the low approval ratings the real estate industry suffers from. 

Trust is a huge issue and rightfully so, as we are talking about a huge purchase using someone else's money.  I think it's a big responsibility. 

Unfortunately, this lack of trust can be widespread and so it doesn't surprise me to get an email from a client with a long laundry list of MLS numbers or property addresses they found online, courtesy of Zillow or Trulia, of course.  This, despite our already having had "the talk" about how those sites are basically lead aggregators who like to take our listings and sell leads back to us, that the data is not always current and really, you don't need to use them.  Trust me. 

This, of course, after they have already received from me an auto update directly from the MLS, real time information as soon as it happens.  Well, okay, within nano seconds. 

So, why do they do it? I don't know.  I guess they are frustrated with the current lack of inventory and  I honestly don't think they realize how much time it takes us to take the list THEY FOUND ONLINE!!! and go through the MLS and check the status of every listing, just so we can then turn around and mark each listing with "Under contract," "Sold," "Under contract," "Withdrawn," "Short Sale" (remember you don't have the flexibility for a short sale), etc. then explain once again why we provide them with real time, legitimate information.  

Sure, it's frustrating for us, but imagine how frustrating it is to be a home buyer in this market these days.  

However, let me just say this...the agents I know have no vested interest in not showing you the most current inventory and giving you the most accurate information.  We don't hide houses! 


From Northern Virginia to the Northern Neck, we provide you with stellar service (just read what some of our former clients have to say about it) and top notch market knowledge to help you sell your current home or buy your next dream home.

 Visit our website to search homes for sale or for more information on how we can work together to reach your real estate goals.

Comment balloon 48 commentsSusan Haughton • November 01 2012 04:04PM


Hello Susan,  You are so right, it takes a long time to go thru the list and most times stuff is U/C.  Suggested

Posted by Will Hamm, "Where There's a Will, There's a Way!" (Hamm Homes) over 6 years ago

It is a just a part of the issue we face with the distribution of our listings to hundreds of sites.  They are quick to grab them and very slow to keep the status up to date.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 6 years ago

'susan, Buyers think there are homes here and there and if they see it somewhere it makes it so.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) over 6 years ago

Don't we all hide our best listings on Trulia and Zillow for other agents to get the leads on?  Just kidding.  I couldn't resist.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 6 years ago

Susan I have gotten the same email.   I try telling buyers that if I haven't emailed it to them it's not available but sometimes they think they know better.   Honestly why in the world would we not show them a listing that would work for them? 

Posted by Jim Patton, Realtor - Stanislaus & Merced county Realtor. ( 209-404-0816) over 6 years ago

Oh Susan, this is SO true, and so unfortunate!  I like Chris Ann's comment above - funny!


Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 6 years ago

I have the same issue with clients who go the net to look on their own. Then they are so depressed when I tell the home have already sold, etc!

Posted by Sussie Sutton, UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers. (UTR Texas Realtors) over 6 years ago

Susan -- ah, yes the dreaded low barrier of entry.  There's nothing better than hiding that secret listing that sold two(or more years) ago with multiple offers and for over list price just to tempt and tease buyers.  

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 over 6 years ago

Great title & great blog!  Most of my clients who start off with lists of houses they find on "other" sites usually end up giving up on that avenue after several times of finding out the listings are already sold.  On the other hand, I DO have a few experiences where I actually did not see the listing, b/c the listing agent was not in this area and did not post the listing on the local MLS - imagine that!  There was one instance where the listing was in my area in the San Francisco Peninsula, but the listing (after much digging) turned out to be only in some So Cal MLS.  Not sure what the listing agent was intending by that.  Anyway, more important than anything is that our clients know they can trust us to be looking for the best options for them.

Posted by Jean Joh, SF Peninsula RE Specialist (8z Real Estate) over 6 years ago


I know, it's frustrating. It's a thrill of the deal one is hoping to find, a secret perfect house, in great neighborhood and in tip-top shape, priced at  way below market value to begin with, and desperately anxious to sell sellers willing to take 20% less than asking... And since one cannot find such a deal in MLS, MLS cannot be trusted. 

I try to point out to buyers that it's not in sellers' interest to hide their perfect house so well from others. Sellers' and sellers' agent desire is to show the house to as many people as possible, in most easy to use way. I guess some people just have this "best stuff is hidden under the table" mentality...

Posted by Anna Tolstoy (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 6 years ago

No, we're definitely not hiding houses. What could possibly be gained by doing that? It's frustrating all the way around. You explained it very well and I would just hand them your post.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) over 6 years ago
Susan, sometimes, it's just that the buyers are more comfortable with the search process on the more popular consumer sites, I have found. I have also found that addressing their questions from their perspective is more effective than trying to tell them the sources you mentioned are inaccurate and not up to date.
Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 6 years ago

Susan...happens to me all the time!  They seem to think there's a hidden list of foreclosures too.

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - over 6 years ago

Thank you for this timely post.  I've felt the same frustration when clients send me lists.  No matter how often I tell them that I have ALL of the inventory, they still proceed in sending me lists.  I get right back to them with a typed list of each home and why I didn't send it to them, ie they don't meet your minimum square footage, etc.  Frustration is the name of the game these days.  Have a great weekend!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) over 6 years ago

Sometimes they send a list every week, even after having their lists shot down week after week after week and being told specifically WHY those listings are no good.

I stood in the hot sun for 40 minutes explaining why we couldn't just bust down the doors of a home and preview it early - when we had an appointment to view it at a specific time.

We don't hide homes, but some homes are hidden from view - we work hard to find these places and get our clients a showing.


Posted by Richard Arnold, Realtor - Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix (Keller Williams Realty East Valley) over 6 years ago

I have had a few buyers get upset after calling on only to find out it's under contract. "But it is showing here on it is available". Than you have to go into the whole explanation on why still show it. They almost always still leave the conversation upset at you when it's actually and other sites responsible for not updating their sites. I guess you get use to it after awhile, there is just a huge level of distrust. 

Posted by Raymond Kennedy (Keller Williams Preferred Realty) over 6 years ago

Will:  Thanks!  It can be time consuming, that's the truth.

Cindy:  I would like to know how many aggregate hours agents across the country spend having to deal with bad data.

Debbie:  LOL - very apt observation!

Chris Ann: laugh of the week!  

Jim:  Ain't that the truth?  It's not like we don't WANT to find them a house.

Melissa:  And time consuming!

Sussie:  I know, it is disheartening to have to tell them they really didn't find

Michael:  LOL...oh, yes, we love those "secret" listings, don't we?

Jean:  You are right - it's best when they trust us to look out for their best interests.

Anna:  You said's not in anyone's best interest to hide their houses.


Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 6 years ago

Jill:  Thanks!  I may start emailing it to clients and save some time right upfront.

Carol:  Good point and great advice.

Christine:  Oh, don't even get me started on the deals/bargains/foreclosures!  Ack!

Jan:  Got a list today from someone who found houses in the paper, none of which met his criteria.  Sigh.

Rich:  LOL...sorry, I know it wasn't funny, but your example made me laugh.

Raymond:  Oh, I forgot about  Sigh. 

Erica:  If they cannot find it one place, they are going to keep searching!


Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 6 years ago

Agreed.  Sigh, if they only knew how much time it takes to look up all of these sold/under contract homes.

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (RE/MAX Executives) over 6 years ago

Brilliant post Susan.  I have this as one of my talking points when I meet with a potential client.  I'm not, not showing them a house . . . even when it's listed with an agent I don't like, LOL  They'll see them either in person on the tour, or via a link to the listing sheet!

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 6 years ago
I find that so frustrating! Those site just don't give buyers any good information. Everything is either old and obsolete or missing data etc. it only makes our job harder while making the consumer think we are holding things back from them.
Posted by Nathan Tutas, Your Central Florida Real Estate Expert (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Susan, your post is so true!  I was blessed to have finally placed a first time buyer in a home just weeks ago after nearly six months of looking.  My buyer was so exhausted from searching endlessly on outdated real estate sites, it was maddening for her until she began to trust that I was the provider of current information.

On a side note, I received a call from a lead generation group today who promised me that they had received over 30+ leads for my 'county' and wanted to charge me a few hundred dollars a month to use their service.  Crazy thing was that when I shared I live in the largest county in the U.S., and that 30 leads is really not that many if they are not in or around the cities that I serve, the sales woman stated that they keep their leads on their website for a minimum of two years!  I truly feel for unrespresented buyers.  Congrats on your feature.

Posted by Christina Sanchez Hood, #SiliconValleyHOODS | Inspired Living over 6 years ago

Susan - I think they're just hopeful that we have missed something because there is so little inventory.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 6 years ago
This is a frustration for every agent. We tell people that pending and withdrawn sales are on these sites, but then they always send us these looooong lists of homes we then have to go cross check and they are always not available. No your agent isn't incompetent or not as good house hunting as you are, or as you wrote, "hiding houses.". As you said, we have no reason to not show you everything that's available!
Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 6 years ago

Susan  Great post.  Happens to me more and more.  When they ask about holmes they have seen on Zillow or Trulia (or fill in the blank) I send them the info from our MLS showing that the property is contingent or sold or the condo fees are $750/month. I use it as an opportunity to reinforce with the client that they need the help of a professional with the most up to date and complete information.  "If it was easy, anybody could do it".....

Posted by Tom Cahill over 6 years ago

Susan, this happens every day.  Buyers continue to be shocked that the info they find online is outdated.  Sometimes the properties they find were sold a year ago!  I guess the general public does not understand that information stays on the Internet forever, unless it is part of a continuously updated database like the MLS.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 6 years ago

I just keep reminding people that it's not only not their best interest for me to "hide" homes from them, it's not in my interest! I've found that often when someone sends me homes and I come back to them with good reasons why I didn't send them those homes in the first place, after a while they stop trying to "outguess" me.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) over 6 years ago

I just had this happen yesterday with a buyer....via text.  He'd send one and I reply back, "under contract".  He'd send another, and another, and another and....  It got pretty annoying via text.  Not a single one was actively for sale.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 6 years ago
Susan, once in awhile a house gets 'hidden'. I've seen agents from outside the local association list a house in a non-related MLS, so it doesn't show up in a local agent feed. They save the cost of a lockbox or reciprocal fee, but they sure aren't doing the seller of that property any favors by not exposing the home to the widest possible audience. But you are right. We can burn up a lot of time re-checking someone else's data.
Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 6 years ago

Hi Susan, we agree.  We think the best bet is to get them in the office and do a live search.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 6 years ago

I guess there are a number of people who are NOT Realtors(r) who really like Zillow, Trulia or driving by vacant houses with a white paper sheet in the window. All can make us look inept. When they are not available, they are REALLY unavailable.

Posted by Nan Jester, Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery (Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL ) over 6 years ago

Great post- We have no interest in hiding houses.  Also, I often have found that when clients give me a list, I can go through it and tell them why I did not pass that one on to them.  Sometimes it has sold, other times it backs up to a major highway or has other issues that they have indicated would be a problem.  

The one plus to them doing it is that you can sometimes use their picks to open a discussion with them about what they like and why.

Posted by M. Lynn Delatte (Developers Realty) over 6 years ago

Our MLS shows Short Sale (Pending Lender Approval) and Contingent homes as still being active listings. I get people who want to see these condos or homes and when I tell them they are Under Contract, they don't believe me. Frustrating. 

There is still something to be said about working with a professional. Just because he's a doctor does not mean he can do a root canal or a knee replacement. It depends on his speciality. 

We really are here to HELP you buy a home.

Posted by Thom Abbott, Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale ( |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living) over 6 years ago

A constant irritant.  The biggest problem is agent don't claim their own properties and update them on Truli, Zillow, and Realtor .  This causes the information to be out of date or erroneous.  All it really does is cause other agents a lot of wasted time and frustration for buyer.  If we want the problem cured, we have to do it.  If it is sold, notify the website.

Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) over 6 years ago

I still get buyers I am working with who feel the need to bounce all over the place to find the one home no one else knows about!!

How come I can't find "1 Anystreet" on your website?

  1. The property is not for sale and hasnt been recenly, you just werent paying attention when you were looking on Trulia to see what the status was.
  2. You told me you absolutely would not look at anything under 1 acre and you didn't want properties sent to you that were less than one acre.  Did you realize this property is only on an 8,000 square foot lot?
  3. Its a Realty Track Listing for a home that received its order of notice!!
Posted by Kevin Vitali, Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers (EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales) over 6 years ago

Dear Susan,

Every new client does not know how diligently you work for them and they have to learn this for themselves. Some are faster than others at doing so. Some websites keep homes for years. Recently, clients brought me rental listings that sounded too cheap for the area. The homes were rented 5 & 7 years ago respectively and one had since been sold.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 6 years ago

I have an email I send out explaining the situation.  Every time I get an inquiry like this, I send her (or him) this email. After she gets it enough times she starts to realize that she is already getting the best info.

Sometimes this works, and sometimes she will just go harass another Realtor. I think I am better off if she does!

Posted by Thomas McCombs (Century 21 HomeStar) over 6 years ago

Oh my goodness how I can relate to this post and the comments that go with it.  this is one of the issues, you have a listing that gets syndicated to 40 different sites. You take it off your own MLS when the status changes but then that information doesn't necessarily get sent back to those 40+ sites. If you then have to go back to those sites individually to check the information is correct then that negates any timesavings from having it go to the other sites in the first place.

Posted by Sue Goldthorp over 6 years ago

Susan, I don't think I could possibly agree more! It's such a pain to have buyers email you a list of homes they want to see, only to find that 90% of them have been off the market for ages.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) over 6 years ago
As Karen Crowson says above, some properties are not on the MLS if it's on the marked by an out of town agent who is not a member of our MLS. Wonder how he talked the seller into it. But that is a minimal part of the inventory.
Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 6 years ago
Your post in so true. Buyers are anxious to get in a home, and grow weary due to inventory. They become compelled to do their own searches! Which generally requires more work for us because even thought the house is cancelled, pending or back up status...our client wants a response to their email!
Posted by Lanise Warrior-Johnson, Real Estate Specialist (Real Estate Brokers Services, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Susan very agree with you, I have a buyer that  email me a list of homes she want to see that's not nice....

Thank you for sharing!!

Posted by EMILIA B COOPER, REALTOR® SFR.NCHSE.AHWD, Short Sales, Foreclosure & Bank Owned Real Estate (LAROSA REALTY) over 6 years ago

I wish that we could consult a psychologist on this point. Why would I hide a house from you & not sell it to  you Mr. Buyer?

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 6 years ago

I know I am in the minority but I don't mind when a buyer asks me about a home they found online. It tells me they are active in the market and they are including me in homes they are finding. In most cases, I know about the home they are e-mailing and asking me about. How? I set up the same alerts on the non-MLS sites that the buyers do so I am finding out about these properties the same time, or before they do.

There are benefits to the buyer looking on their own; they may tell me about a house that has features they didn't ask for when we outlined their property search. Now I know this is an important feature and I can add it to the mix. It keeps the lines of communication open. We can have conversations regarding what it is about these homes that they are so attracted to. If it is a home that is no longer available, I can research when and how long it was on the market. A hot property that goes quickly puts the buyer on notice that when I call them about a listing, they need to move quickly. 

As with all information, it can be your friend or foe. I embrace all online data sources. They help me in my business and I am glad the consumer has access to so much today, it reinforces just how much work I do "behind the scene" on their behalf because they see how long it takes to find what they are looking for.

Posted by Catherine C Capasso, Cottage or Castle, What's Your Dream! (Catherine Cornelia Real Estate) over 6 years ago

I am swamped with buyers right now.  Most paying cash but a few trying to buy with loans.  Some do not get a clue what it takes to get a home and I don't waste a lot of time with them, I am polite, but focus on the ones that will do what it takes.  

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 6 years ago

There are certain buyers that no matter how many times you "have the talk" will continue to look on sites like Zillo or Trulia. It can be frustrating for the agent who has to take to time to look up each property and then explain why the property did not com up on MLS (because it was under contract, pending, sold, etc.). Sometimes, though, I can use that as an opportunity to broaden the criteria to find additional properties that might be available.

Posted by Anonymous over 6 years ago

Susan - Zillow and Trulia are becoming increasingly a pain in my backside.  I especially love the "pre-foreclosures" that they put on their site, and it's so much fun trying to explain to a buyer that these homes may not come onto the active market for quite some time, if ever!

Posted by Brad Baylor (ERA Coup Agency) over 6 years ago

Yes - I love this reasoning - that I know of a listing that is the buyer's dream home and it is really really inexpensive - and I am hiding it just so I can keep showing them listings that they can't afford or don't like! right.....

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) 9 months ago