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Ask Eli: Criteria You Can’t Search on Zillow

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Question: I’m looking for a 1-bedroom condo with a den, but can’t find a site like Zillow or that allows me to search for it. Do you know of a site that includes den in the search?

Answer: The MRIS — a realtor database of records that feeds to all of the consumer-facing websites — includes a ton of data that doesn’t show up in consumer-facing websites, but for some crazy reason it doesn’t include a data field for dens, a very common criteria in Arlington. The only way to search for a den is to search the remarks field for the word “den” which isn’t a perfect solution and ineffective on a lot of consumer-facing sites.

Common criteria available to agents in MRIS, not on (most) consumer sites:

  • Balcony/terrace
  • Fenced yard/privacy fence
  • Number of levels/floors
  • Location and number of bedrooms and bathrooms by level/floor
  • Type of parking (garage, off-street, assigned, carport, etc)
  • Type of flooring (hardwood, carpet, laminate) by room
  • Number of fireplaces
  • Washer/dryer in unit
  • *Above grade sqft, below grade finished/unfinished sqft
  • New construction
  • Walk-in closet
  • En-suite (attached) master bathroom
  • Home type (rambler, craftsman, cape code, etc)
  • Level/floor location of apartment (1st floor, penthouse, basement, floor 6-10, etc)
  • Energy efficient features

*Every website allows you to search by square footage, but be very careful. I frequently come across listings with incorrect square footage or no square footage entered at all. Be prepared to miss some good homes if you’re filtering by square footage.

The introduction of real estate search sites like Zillow has given the consumer access to real estate information that was previously unavailable, but there are still a lot of common search criteria these sites don’t offer that an agent with MRIS access can search for. A recent example I have is a couple that needs a one level home with two master suites. Without an agent, they’d have to search through almost every single home within their budget, trying to figure out from the pictures and descriptions if they are one level and if they also have two master suites, but with MRIS, I can quickly search on their criteria, saving them a lot of time online.

Do you have any specific criteria (e.g. pet-free buildings) that you haven’t been able to search for yourself? Shoot me an email and I’ll set-up a search for you!

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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