The internet is a wonderful thing, almost as wonderful as HGTV where dreams come true in 22 short minutes. Spend 10 minutes on line and learn everything there is to know about real estate. In reality the internet is akin to an intoxicant; nothing short of a pair of first class beer goggles.
I love the transparency that has been forced upon the real estate industry – forced in every sense of the word because this industry thrives on cloaking most aspects of it in mystery; almost fear mongering. Zillow and Trulia have blasted gaping holes in the armor and I expect it won’t be long before the industry is turned on it’s head – “disrupted” seems the be word of the moment. And this is good – and this is bad.
Real estate is not splitting atoms, but it’s also not buying a book on Amazon. It’s awesome to sit on the couch and cruise thousands of listings without an annoying, shrill agent asking to be “your reeeeeel-toooor for life”. Zillow has provided a great resource to honestly evaluate agents, cruise listings and complete rudimentary research. Most of the information on line is beneficial. Most.
Just as WebMD doesn’t make one a doctor, consumer real estate sites do not make one a real estate agent. In fact, “articles” with headlines like these are often nothing short of idiotic:
- Add 15% to the value of your home by…
- Paint your front door and add 12% in value…
- Sell your home in one day by….
- Buy your dream home with zero down…
- Living by a sports stadium increases values – like around Turner Field or the GA Dome?
Those headlines are catchy but the content is typically hot air. But it resonates and it confuses folks in the market. In my opinion however, nothing is as damaging as “expert” declarations:
- Case-Shiller reports values in Atlanta….
- Agent Clown reports Atlanta market is….
- National housing market is….
- Foreclosures are at an all time….
- Mortgage market and lending becomes….
The overriding problem with headlines like these is detail. ALL real estate is hyper local – often to school district. Case-Shiller considers Atlanta to be a compilation of Atlanta-Marietta-Sandy Springs. When #1 Agent in the Universe Mr. Clown shouts “values are up – time to buy or sell” so vigorously that their red nose falls off, check the data and see how broad it is. Trends must be viewed at the micro market level where the home being considered is located. Trends in East Cobb, Stone Mountain, Dunwoody and Morningside are not similar. This assumes of course, that Agent Clown understands that and can actually compile and brief the data.
Enjoy the transparency that has been so hard to get in this industry, it is a very good thing. But understand that buying or selling a home is an extremely fluid process with variables that cannot be accounted for. An experienced agent provides a sounding board, appropriate data and guidance that will keep you from walking off a financial cliff or from leaving money on the table. Leverage the knowledge the internet provides, do your homework and Google any agent you consider using and stay away from #1 Agent in the Universe Mr. Clown. Last month he was selling revolutionary products to clean pots and pans, next month he’ll be selling the best adult diapers ever created.