How Too Much Information Can Harm a Real Estate Buyer or Seller

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentLong, long ago there was Prime Ticket Sports. What set Prime Ticket apart was the evening call-in show which had … get this … a ticker of scores running along the bottom of the screen! No need to wait until the morning to see what was happening in Major League Baseball that night. The scores were there for the taking!

Know what else was cool? The hosts had mountains of statistics at their fingertips, all on the old green-and-white paper that spewed forth in continuous masses from a daisy-wheel printer. Want to know what Alfredo Griffin was hitting? They knew! And they didn’t even have to wait for the weekend AP stats package (or the Tuesday update in USA Today) to know. It was incredible.

I was younger and loved baseball then. That was when I started playing tabletop baseball, for the stats as much as anything else. Toby would appreciate this even if Strat-o-Matic is the one version I never played (I was partial to APBA and Pursue the Pennant.)

Things are different now. Statistics are available in a wide array of web sites, updated to the minute with everything you wanted to know and lot you never cared about. Do I really need to know someone’s on-base percentage with runners in scoring position and one out in the fourth inning? Doubtful. But it’s there.

And I still look at batting averages, archaic as they may be.

Part of the evolution of real estate is there’s increasing amounts of information available at a buyer or sellers’ fingertips. Some of it’s useful. Some of it’s not. How is the consumer supposed to know the difference?

Trulia Voices seems to be the main place where the advice is dispensed regardless of logic or accuracy, though it also happens on Zillow Q&A and Active Rain’s Q&A. Yesterday I had written about a thread from Tuesday. It’s still going now.

The buyer has the agent but is soliciting pricing assistance from the Trulia Voices crowd. None of these folks really know the situation – the property in question, the comps, etc. They are receiving everything third hand. The buyers’ agent has the most available data, but my hunch is he or she isn’t giving the buyer the answer they want because the buyer is looking for someone to validate her offer price.

And validation is coming, REALTOR Code of Ethics be damned.

Is this really helpful to the buyer, who likely is going to run with the (mis)information she is receiving when she puts together an offer? Not whatsoever. Is it helpful to the seller (set aside from the fact it’s a bank in this case) who is trying to negotiate the sale? Not at all.

“Is it possible for the bank to accept $100,000 less?”

Not if the price of the home is $98,000, it isn’t. Not even if it’s $150,000, for that matter.

Being able to assemble the varied pieces of data and develop an effective negotiating strategy is one of the key traits of a good real estate agent. Representation doesn’t involve telling the client whatever they want to hear (though my job would be easier if it did.)

Asking the faceless masses whether you’re going about a purchase the right way not only is nonsensical, but at the end of the day it will prove fruitless.

[tags]Phoenix real estate, real estate negotiations, Trulia Voices[/tags]

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


  • House Value 10 years ago

    You bring up a great point in this blog, and a great overall question. How much information is to much and can it be harmful. I agree with your blog about the Q&A parts of sites. But in general more information is always better.

    What you are describing is people spouting off opinions and answering questions to situations they couldn’t possibly know enough on to answer. You are definitely on the right track there.

    But the real estate industry as a whole becoming more transparent with consumers/buyers knowing more is a good thing in my opinion. Its like one of those old NBC commercials “The more you know”

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Possibly, HV … the problem is none of the information ever is complete. And a compilation of incomplete information does not necessarily add up to complete data.

    It’s when the consumer believes that they have all of the information needed to make a decision, even when they don’t, that it becomes dangerous.

    And it’s not their fault when it happens. It’s the industry’s.

  • House Value 10 years ago

    Alright, you’ve got me there. There is a lot of incomplete information/data out there.

    But if I were a consumer (which I try and be every now and then when I have da cash), I would prefer to walk into a situation with half or 1/3rd of the picture than be blindfolded and just jump on in.

    I guess the only conclusion here is more education of consumers (so they know they dont have all the pieces to the puzzle) and way better/accurate information available to the consumer.

  • Real Estate Sales 10 years ago

    Our video series makes it much more simple for the average person to understand the real estate market. This education will remove the fear that inhibits them from taking action.