You find a home you love, and the asking price makes it practically a steal. But you wonder: how do you know it wasn’t built on top of a “relocated” cemetery? Or what if it’s only a few blocks away from the city’s longest-running crackfest? Thanks to several websites and blogs, new home shoppers can now collect “real world” data about prospective neighborhoods and real estate from actual residents, other buyers, and anonymous brokers out to sabotage the competition.
The sites let you find out the sorts of things you’d normally know only after living there for six months or so:
The executive relocating to Rochester, says he couldn’t understand why houses fronting Lake Ontario weren’t selling at a premium. Every real estate agent he saw said the prices simply reflected the city’s low property values. But from web research, he got the real skinny: Winds off the lake made that area almost unbearably cold for much of the year. “At least I get an honest opinion from a real person” online, he says.
Brokers complain that the data is unreliable at best, and they’re right. But then, they’re brokers, so that’s like a hooker complaining that the other women in the bar are slutty.
(To be fair to brokers, laws prevent them from talking about all sorts of details. And to be fair to hookers, we think prostitution should be legal. And to be fair to slutty women, we thing sexual double standards are repellent.)
“The Dirt on the Neighbors” [SmartMoney]