Comps and why you shouldn’t trust the Internet

The air in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife.  The man at the front, the one who held the answers to all questions was about to tell us how to value properties so we could then springboard into buying only the best of them.

He said ….

He said ….

He said ….

Don’t you hate it when people do that to you?  I’m not a big on waiting gal.  Give me the facts and I’ll get on it, thank you very much.

A patient goes to the doctor’s office where, much to his surprise the doctor asks him, “Would you please help me with a problem I’m having?”

Sure, doctor, what can I do for you, says the patient.

“Would you scream in the most earsplitting, piercing screams you can manage? Try to make it sound as if you’re in terrible pain.” The doctor says.

“But why, doctor, you’ve always been gentle with me and your treatments have never caused me any pain?” Asks the patient.

“Yes,” Says the doctor in a matter-of-fact tone, “but I have a 4 o’clock tee time at the golf course I don’t want to miss, and my waiting room is still full of patients.”

Got the waiting motif.  Can we get on with why I can’t trust Pillow, Unrulia, Cybercombs, etc.?

Here’s why.  It’s the wait.  For the same reason it can take months for a bank to respond to a short sale offer, the online (and that’s important) access to information is also delayed and sometimes quite significantly, by backlogs in the recording offices.  The information they transfer online is what is available to these sources.  You could knock me over with a feather if any of the online resources had armies of file worker bees, combing the county records of each and every …. well, county.

Last year a document we filed in August didn’t show up online till October and only then because I called the recording office and asked for a manual push.  That was in a “good” market.  Filed deeds of trust have been returned to us as late as 8 months after the filing because of overworked clerks, their wearied eyes peering over the tops of Teton (and I don’t use that in the French sense) sized mountains of paper.

Old data in, old data out.  That great bargain you found in Phoenix, which had previous sales comps of $350, $360 and $380, and you can pick up for $179 looks to be a steal.  The problem is, the online system didn’t pull up the most recent sales of those same comp properties at $120, $119 and $87.  Argh.  You made a poor decision, based on the information at hand.

Sorry to make you wait.  The man at the front of the room said, “Have a realtor pull comps for you.”  Why?  Because in their system, when they sell a house, they record the selling date and the selling price.  There is no need to wait for Toodle or HotPlate to update their data stream; it’s live market conditions.  Is it perfect?  No.  It will only reflect the MLS sales — for the FSBO’s, you have to wait till the county clerk gets that updated.  If you do want current market value, in whatever market you’re shopping, find a real estate agent.

By the way, in WA state, as of July 1, 2010, we’re no longer called agents.  The designation is “Broker.”  Everyone is broker.  I think it’s a market indicator [rim shot].

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