Buying a Home? Let’s Get Help From the Peanut Gallery!

About a half-century ago, a brilliant promoter by the name of Bill Veeck owned a sad-sack major league team called the St. Louis Browns. Veeck would do nearly anything in the name of attendance and publicity, which were the only battles the Browns really ever could hope to win.

One night at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, Veeck turned the game over to the fans. Fans were given placards with “yes” or “no” written on them and were polled throughout the game on what the Browns should do from a strategy standpoint – should the infield be played back, should the Browns try a hit and run (that ought to have been interesting), should the runner be bunted over, etc.

Amazingly, the Browns won the game 5-3.

These days, folks longing for echoes of “Fan Manager Night” can tune either to The Price is Right or the real estate forums on Trulia Voices.

At least once a year, there is a buyer who elects to let the peanut gallery guide him through a real estate purchase even though no one in the peanut gallery has ever seen the purchase contract:

  • Can I cancel because I found a sex offender in the area?
  • Is the inspection period part of my escrow period or separate?
  • What should I offer on a short sale?
  • Why is the lender taking so long to approve the short sale?
  • Is this a safe neighborhood?

Of all those, the last really is the only one appropriate for the peanut gallery because as licensed real estate professionals the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits us from describing neighborhoods in subjective terms such as safe, quiet, etc. lest we be using those words as code for race, nationality and the like.

As for the rest … any competent agent can tell their buyer the answer to those questions. Whether the buyer believes their agent is another story, but if as a buyer you’re consistently questioning your agent’s opinions and judgment, you ought to color up and go find another table to play.

(Not to say a working partnership between agent and buyer is a bad thing. Many a time, a buyer has made a suggestion “outside the box” as it were which, after we discussed further, turned out to work well. But when a buyer consistently questions every piece of advice, it’s hard not to remind him or her that I sell more homes in a couple of months than they’ll buy and sell in their entire life.)

On Trulia and other like forums, much of the advice comes from out of state where the norms are different. For instance, it’s not unusual to see references to attorney review periods coming from agents on the East Coast even though this is a non-attorney state for real estate. Much of the advice is conflicting – some will give answers without fully understanding the situation, others will (often rightly) refer the question back to the consumer’s real estate agent or a real estate attorney.

Every contract is different. Every transaction is different. Asking the peanut gallery may seem like a decent idea but unless all of them are looking at the same contract, just as the fans at Sportsman’s Park were all looking at the same field, there’s no assurance the answers will be correct.

Yes, the Browns beat the A’s on Fan Manager night. Reminds me of an old saying about the sun and a dog’s tuchas. Odds are, over a then 154-game schedule, the success rate would be poor.

The question is whether you want to be the fortunate one that bucks the odds or if you’d rather get some professional help and make sure things get done correctly.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at