The page one WSJ article Snippy Things Folks Say About Your Home Are Now Also Online [REJ] caught my eye with the “Rats” subtitle. As real estate moves more and more towards online dependency, it was a matter of time before services the allow visitors of properties to review them.

The classic dotcom content generator: users

This has long been done with vendors of books, music and movies and many others who are selling their wares. Content is enriched and a sense of community is created. People buy things. This concept has already touched real estate community in the form of a user-driven real estate broker rating site called BrokerRate.com.

Real estate is late to the party because the real estate broker is dealing with a large asset and most homeowners would be hard pressed to accept the notion that pointing out property defects would result in a higher price. Given the emotion and large dollars tied to the asset on both sides of the transaction, I would speculate the general comments would be nearly all negative despite claims otherwise, following the “stop light” theory (You only remember the red lights and not the green lights). I can just imagine competing listing owners and brokers posting negative comments about the competition.

So in order for this to work, non-broker sites such as those mentioned in the articles would be the most practical venue. I for one am weary of reading brokerspeak. With some diligence, a buyer can filter out the negative hyperbole (just like the positive hyperbole) and get a complete sense of the property.

And honestly, the reviews are quite entertaining.

After viewing a three-bedroom row house offered for $108,000 in Baltimore, a Zip reviewer described the décor as “strange” and said the third bedroom is “about as wide as a coffin.” To reach this bedroom, the reviewer says, “you have to walk through the bathroom! And the lock for this room is on the bedroom side. Whoever moves in must be a very friendly family with little need for privacy.”

“rot” in the bathroom, said the bathtub should be replaced and commented that the “green paint isn’t nearly as charming in person as in photos.” If all that wasn’t bad enough, the reviewer added: “Neighborhood questionable. Two kids had a loud, screaming fight outside the door during showing. Loud cars drive up and down the street with thumping music.”



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