So, you just spotted the house of your dreams at an incredible price, and you shoot your agent an excited email asking to see it NOW.

I shoot you an email back saying, “Sorry, that house isn’t on the market. It was sold 3 years ago.” You are devastated and feel you’ve been tricked. How does this happen?

The problem with some sites is that it shows everything that is active. That includes short sales that have an offer that the bank has not yet approved. Banks want the home to show active, get back up offers in case the first offer falls apart. Some allow showings, some don’t. Short sales are still a little wild west, we never know what the banks will counter offer.

Our MLS shows homes that are ‘active with offer’ with a yellow banner at the top of the listing. That would be a clue. However, not all the information is 100% accurate. I’ve shown homes listed with 4 bedrooms, and only one was a legal bedroom. It is an MLS violation to inaccurately list the number of legal bedrooms, but it happens.

Last week I showed a foreclosed home that had been on the market a long time. The description was “cute 2 bedroom, lots of character.” No red flags, right? Pictures were normal.

When we got there a sign on the front door that it is a Vacant Building by the City of St Paul. Not a good thing, but it might be a small issue. The time buyer was excited and wanted to make an offer. Before going too far too fast, I looked up vacant buildings on the St Paul site. It is a Vacant Building, Category II, with a $2000 fine, and a Code Compliance inspection that went on for 3 pages of required repairs! The seller requires the buyer to take responsibility for all repairs, fines, and fees. Not going to happen.

I called MLS to complain, they know my voice by now. Apparently, it is not a violation to exclude legal status and waste everyone’s time.

Bottom line is that there are some things you have to see to believe. Sometimes there is one photo. Even if there are a lot of photos, rarely will there be one of problem areas. Let’s check what we can about a home before spinning wheels.