Now prospective buyers can check out property listings, 24-hours a day, seven days a week from their home computers. Information for Southeast Missouri residential, commercial, investment and rural properties for sale by area real estate companies and even a calculator to determine loan payments needed to cover a purchase are located at the Website semolist.com.
Dave Green, president of Creative Design Group of Malden and Jonesboro, Ark., worked with his staff to design the initial site for several real estate brokers about a year ago.
"Some of the agents were having trouble updating their own Websites and some were interested in seeing what others had listed," he recalled about that first meeting. Green's company proposed a group listing site and initially seven different companies came on board. By March the site went on-line and it has grown steadily in members and offerings ever since.
Semolist is a real estate organization of Realtors and real estate agents in good standing in both their communities and the industry, Green emphasized. Members update their own listings, whether homes, commercial, rental or farmland, daily so the public can view the market's latest offerings. The Website allows the user to search by price, location, number of bedrooms or any of several other variables even whether a pool should be part of the new home's amenities. As the choices come up on the screen, a prospective buyer can click to look at more details, including photos of the exterior and interior, and the name of the listing agent.
"This way you can pretty much see every home for sale through an agent member in the Sikeston area," said Green about the listing. "Every time a house is listed, sold or the price changes it is updated immediately. The site includes the listing agent so you can be off and running toward buying a new house 24-7."
Green said list members have reported several cases of people not just from out of town but even locally who used the site to narrow choices before contacting an agent. "It's possible to make a deal without ever leaving the house," he added.
While the advantage for the buyer to compare properties is obvious, Green said there are several pluses for the participating real estate agents, too. "There is less time spent scheduling appointments, waiting for customers, getting keys, etc."
He was pleased to find companies willing to work together on the Website. "To share information with other agents is sometimes a tough thing to do in the real estate business but led by that group of seven initial members, they have done a tremendous job of working together and with us," Green said. "If it wasn't for the cooperative effort of the local real estate agents, this Website would not be functioning."
Century 21 Premiere Realty of Sikeston was among the first to sign on to semolist.com and Faye Walbourg has nothing but praise for the site. "So far it has worked out beautifully," she said. "There isn't a day that has gone by that we aren't on there."
Often when someone is ready to look at real estate Walbourg said she will refer them first to semolist.com to narrow their choices. She and the Century 21 staff find the site a good tool to help in pricing real estate, too.
Sharing information with other real estate agents, Walbourg said is just another way they can all better serve their clients - whether they are buying or selling.
"Competition is good for people. We will always have competition but we have always worked well together, too. The more people who know about a listing, the better chance we can do a seller justice by getting it sold," said Walbourg. The list now includes members from Sikeston, Dexter, Charleston, Scott City, Jackson, Bloomfield and Chaffee. In addition to real estate agents some 12 to 15 appraisers have paid to become a part of semolist.com, too.
The appraisers are able to make use of a private venue of the site which takes them to information on how much an individual property sold for. Green said this enables them to keep current on values and provide better appraisals for their customers.
Betty Bollinger with Bollinger Service has used the site as an appraiser and a real estate broker since it first went on-line. It is a program that has worked well for her company, she said.
"There are still some glitches," she acknowledged. "You can't ever get all the information someone is wanting and needing but it has worked pretty well - better than some of us expected, really."
The information Bollinger gathers from the site as an appraiser is only available to the site's members and not the general public. Information such as sale price, days on market, date of closing and special circumstances provide a starting point for appraisal of comparable properties, she explained.
"It saves the appraiser time and saves the real estate company some time," Bollinger said. "Overall, I think it is working really well."