Vail Daily column: Can the Internet replace a Realtor? |

Vail Daily column: Can the Internet replace a Realtor?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

No offense, but I am very savvy with the Internet and feel I can find everything listed for sale myself, without a Realtor. Now, I may need a Realtor to actually help me look at the property, but I can have an attorney write the offer, or I could do it myself. Do you think we are fast approaching a time when the Realtor will not play a prominent role in the sale of real estate?

Dear Internet Savvy,

I am so glad you asked that question. Actually, the statistics show the opposite trend. According to the National Association of Realtors, you are correct in saying that an ever-growing number of buyers start their home search on the Internet. Actually, 92 percent of home buyers in 2013 started their search on the Internet. However, the percentage of home buyers that purchased their home through a Realtor in 2001 was 69 percent, and in 2013 it increased to 88 percent. It is starting to look like the bombardment of information is actually increasing the need for a Realtor.

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Wary of Internet

I am not sure where to begin explaining why I believe the Internet is a great way to increase your knowledge, but a frightening thought to think that you would actually use the Internet as the sole basis of your real estate decisions. Let’s start with:

• The information you get on the Internet about any subject is often conflicting, wrong and outdated, as in the case of “for profit” real estate websites. Remember that the pictures always look great because the positives are always emphasized and the negatives are omitted. We know much of the information in not current as we often get calls on properties that have been off the market for weeks or even up to two years, and they are still showing as “available” on the Web. Also, price changes are not always reflected in a timely manner.

• Only a local Realtor knows the whole story about what is happening in the community and what plans there are for a particular location and what the changing landscape may do for your resale value in the future.

• The history of the property ownership and pricing, local traffic information, neighborhood schools, nearby recreation available, etc. is not all on the Web.

• The act of negotiating a deal, which includes carefully constructed offers and counter offers, inspection items that may or may not be taken care of, financing guidance, final walk through, etc., are not able to be done well without the help of an experienced, skilled negotiator — all the qualities of a good Realtor.

These are just a few of the reasons I have room to list. Please continue to search and educate yourself on the Web when you start your property search, but please consult your local, experienced, professional Realtor when you are ready to seriously look and purchase your next home or real estate investment. Not only will you save time and frustration, but probably a substantial amount of money, too. Thank you for asking a very important question that affects most every buyer.

Joan Harned is an owner-broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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