Buyer Beware – Browsing Online Real Estate Listings

So much of our everyday shopping is done online that searching for real estate online is just a logical progression. It’s also fun! It lets us find our perfect dream home without having to get in the car or on a plane and actually set foot in the place. Best of all it can be done at any time of day or night that you have time and the inclination. So, by all means go ahead and look but keep your expectations reasonable. Remember, “If it looks too good to be true it probably is.”

Please consider the following when browsing online:


A good listing agent uses a professional photographer. If they don’t the seller should be asking why not. A professional photographer can minimize defects while enhancing other features. For example, that photo of the great view from the lanai over the lake is real but maybe only in the angle from which the photo was taken. It could be that the true overall view is only a partial lake view or a view that is partially blocked by another building.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but it can also be taken in such a way as to hide a thousand defects like stained countertops, cracked floorboards, uneven or mismatched tiles, the neighbor’s kennel, etc. When you view those fantastic perfect listing photos ask yourself what they aren’t showing.

Online Sites with Old or Stale Listings

The next time you log in to your favorite news website or go outside to pick up today’s paper check the date the news was published. Do you want to read yesterday’s news or are you looking for the most current news? Treat your online real estate sites the same way. Do not waste your time on a site that may not have been updated to show you that dream home is actually under contract. Even worse are those online broker sites that just feature the listings for that brokerage but do not give you access to the complete MLS.

For up-to-date and complete property listings for Sanibel or Captiva Islands, Florida you can use my website, or the public site for the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors, Both of these sites are constantly updated and will be your most accurate source for island real estate information.

Possibility vs. Reality

At the end of the day an online site is really only a travel guide of possibilities. To go further you will need to find a buyer agent who will represent you exclusively and who will understand your goals and needs. Your buyer agent will have local knowledge of the market. They will know more detail and the history of the property. Your buyer agent will be able to guide you away from homes with hidden issues and if a listing seems too good to be true, your buyer agent will likely know why.

Mike Badenoch is an exclusive buyer agent, Sanibel and Captiva Islands specialist and broker associate with Buyer’s Choice Realty Group, Inc., Sanibel, Florida. Buyer’s Choice Realty Group, Inc. is an exclusive buyer agency representing only real estate buyers on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Florida. Feel free to call Mike at 239-292-1233 with any questions you may have or visit his web site to browse the MLS at

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