West Bay Roatan FLEMLS IDX Portal Image Condo for sale

How to search on the Internet for your dream home


“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” - Peter Pan


This may seem like a silly idea for an article but it is not as my recent experience with clients demonstrated yet again. I try to have multiple video or voice calls with my clients before they arrive especially if they only have a few days while here. 


Their natural inclination is to go straight to google and start searching “beachfront homes for sale Roatan”, “Real estate Roatan” etc. The first few that come up will be paid advertising. That is not to say they are not good sites just that they are there because they paid lots of money. Then you will get a list of various brokerages and agents that are popular because they have been around a long time, they have good websites or they pay a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialist money to keep them at the top of searches. Good for them this is a business we are in after all.

 

Look out for sites that do not have live information

The problem is that several websites are not sourcing their information “live” from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This can happen in several ways. Some websites (which I will not name for legal reasons) are paid by agents to give them leads. Their listings are hard coded into the website and stay there until someone updates them. Which may rarely happen. In sales terms, it ends up being a bait-and-switch scenario. Just last week (Sept 2022) my clients were excited about a property and when they sent me a link to it I replied saying it was sold in May. 


My first piece of advice is to stay away from any site that is not based here and is solely about Roatan. If you can see other parts of the world on it, the brokerage is not on the island or you can’t see a local +504 country code then just skip to the next site and find a local agent.


How do you know it is a local agent? It is not that hard as they will usually tell you about their wonderful life here. 
A second caveat is to make sure that the agent or brokerage is a member of the Roatan Realty Association (RRA) or has a Roatan Multiple Listing Service (Roatan MLS) logo on the site somewhere. Another clue is the words IDX near any of the photos of homes. This means they are being pulled live from the MLS. Here are some examples of logos you might see. 

Make sure the properties have MLS numbers
Another item to look for is how the home or lot is identified. If it is on the MLS it will usually look something like this: MLS #22-305. Sometimes the MLS and “#” symbols are dropped and you just get the number. “18-222” 
MLS numbers are always 2 digits with a “-” followed by 2 or 3 digits. If it is a long number or no dash then it is not an MLS listing.


Hopefully, following my advice you are now looking at photos of properties that are actually “active” and available for sale. 


Some agents will still hard code listings into their sites to present them in a more attractive manner. Usually, they are good and keep them up to date and manually change the site when they sell a particular property but not always. Again I am not a listing agent so this never happens on my site. Everything you look at on my site will be direct from the MLS database.


I keep reformulating my site to try to make it as simple and as useful as possible. My home page is just called quick find, and has no pretty photos of homes and beaches! It is mostly filled with quick ways to look at different types of properties. However, I am always trying new ideas and am open to suggestions. 


As an example, I realized that people who have never been to the island find searching harder because they are not familiar with the names we use for the different areas of Roatan. So I made this google map which I am filling with photos of the areas and also putting on new developments as they are announced. You can take a look at the map here. 

 

Use my easy buttons
As an example, on the quick find page, I have buttons that open windows that give you all the listings that have changed recently. These are useful when you have been looking for a while. Buttons that show you:
New listings in the last 14 days. 


Any change of status in last month. The property has changed from active to pending or back again. The price has gone up or down or it is a new listing. 
My favorites. These are just a collection of ones that I think are special in some way. 
Everything that is currently available for sale on Roatan. 
I also have a little menu selection that I programmed myself to try to help you narrow down your search quickly and depending on what you click it gives you different options.

Your portal is the best way to search!

Use a portal with a login you have created so you can save your searches
The best way to search is simply to have a big screen, open up the portal and log in. You need to create a login for several reasons. With a login, you can save any house that interests you so that you don’t have to find it again. The software can keep an eye on its status for you.


You can create and label your searches. You can use any of the filters described below as part of your search criteria. Saving searches means you can quickly check to see if anything has been newly listed or sold.
You can subscribe to email updates to the searches you have made. If a new property comes along that fits in that search or a property changes status you will be sent an email. Hopefully not an email saying your dream home has just gone under contract.


I can also add homes to your favorites if I find something that I think will interest you. When you log in and see my recommendations you can dismiss them or keep them on your favorites list. In this way, I am constantly learning what interests you and what doesn’t.


The filter allows you to select from the following criteria:


Island: Roatan
Area of Roatan: If you are not familiar check out my google map here. 
Status: Active as you are not interested in ones that are pending or closed.
Property Type: Residential, Land, Commercial, Resort, Boat Slip 
Listing ID: The MLS number if you found it on another site this is where you can put it.
List Price: Your budget range
Total Bedrooms:
Total Bathrooms:
Lot Acres: How big a lot do you want?
Total SqFt: How big is the house?
Year Built: Modern?


Once you have a list of properties you can either look at all of them by their photos, in a detailed list view, or even their location on a map of Roatan. As your trip gets closer and closer you will know more and more about what you are looking for when you get here.


The idea is to have a list of properties that you are interested in seeing before you get to the island. It can be a long list you will be surprised how quickly a drive around the island narrows it down. Usually, by the time we are ready to tour, we will be between 4 and 20. It varies a lot depending on the type of property you are looking for of course.


Once you arrive


The tour


Looking at properties here is not the same as in North America and most other countries. There you leave your house for work in the morning knowing that it is sparkling clean, staged to look like it could be anyone’s home, and the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air. You leave the house with a lockbox on the door with the house keys safely inside. At a moment’s notice, any agent can call your agent for the code, wander around your house with prospective clients or come to one of your weekend open houses.


Here the property you are interested in may have a family vacationing in it. They have saved up all year for this fantastic island holiday and they are not exactly happy to have strangers wandering around their place, judging their half-unpacked suitcases, as they try to relax. We are required to give agents 24 hours’ notice and that does not guarantee we can see the property. However most rental places warn people that the property is for sale and of course, we try to work around guests and owners as much as we can. Sometimes it may only be possible to see a particular condo at the same time the maid cleans it. We usually work it out but it means lining up properties to see can be a bit of an art form as you juggle to keep everyone happy.


I usually give my clients a tour of the island when they first arrive, especially in those areas they are interested in. Unless they are regular visitors. Though even those that visit often realize how fast things are changing and new developments are opening up all the time. Those I have been in regular touch with whoever and have used the portal to help them locate properties of interest usually find what they are looking for much faster. As they already have a good understanding of the market.
Go google! Sorry, I mean Portal!

Flexmls image for Roatan
National Association of Realtors logo
Roatan Realtors MLS logo
View of fast find tools for Flex MLS
Buttons that selct different views of FLex MLS Roatan

To get the best results create your own portal login. You can then search by location, price, house, land, bedrooms, waterfront, and many other criteria. You can save your searches, and properties that interest you and have the latest listings emailed to you.

Need help? Have questions? Contact me via the chatbox below or any of my details at the bottom of the page.

How to Use your Portal

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