The $4 Phoenix Home for Sale And Other Trulia Myths

Person who comes closest to the actual number wins a prize. Okay, maybe not. But still, by all means, play along.

As of 3:40 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, 2011 there are ______ single-family detached homes for sale in Phoenix Arizona:

  1. 18,928
  2. 5,304
  3. 11,600

The answer, if you happen to put your faith in the Arizona Regional MLS – the place where real estate professionals advertise homes for sale to other agents with attached offers of compensation and the place where the majority of those listings are distributed to a variety of portals through the wonders of IDX, is b.

Now, if you prefer a bit of fiction with your search, you can choose answer number 1. That is the total currently showing on Trulia¬†including a listing for a foreclosure auction property “for sale” for $4.

Yes, 32 bits gets you a home.

Or not. Because this is a listing that Trulia has secured from RealtyTrac, a company that collects notices of Trustee’s Sales on properties when a lender has initiated what serves as the foreclosure procedure here in Arizona.

Will this home ever really be for sale at the courthouse steps? Maybe.

Will the lender ever allow it to be sold for $4 without stepping in to offer more and then sell the home as a bank-owned home? Are you f’ing kidding me?

Does that stop the home from being listed “for sale” on a third-party real estate listings aggregator who at the end of the day isn’t really responsible for fishy data such as these RealtyTrac listings? Of course not.

What you’ll hear from the Trulias and Zillows of the world is they are trying to bring “transparency” to the real estate world. How they are doing that by including non-listings such as the $4 home through RealtyTrac, muddying the waters for buyers looking for real homes for sale, is beyond me.

These sites are to real estate listings what reality stars are to actual stars – pretenders who have enough of the outer trappings and have collected enough cache that they appear to be the real thing, even when they aren’t.

Still, if you find yourself inclined to consider these sites to be a reliable source, you won’t be the first. There even are songs written about such choices.

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


  • BawldGuy 7 years ago

    Jonathan, I’ve began pointing to the misinformation on those two sites since their inception. I gave up.

  • Chris Nichols 7 years ago

    Sounds vaguely familiar…
    Until the consumer figures this out, they will continue to get traffic!

  • Another Investor 7 years ago

    I have an agent friend in Phoenix that works with newbie investors from Silicon Valley, mostly by referral. He sends them listings meeting their criteria with pictures plus rent and sale comps. Often these clients fly in and do the tour. More often than not, he gets a somewhat accusatory follow-up e-mail from these folks with a list of properties from Zillow or Trulia asking why they were not shown these “deals.” He has to stop and educate them patiently. It’s no fun having to re-establish your credibility in this situation.

  • Paul Slaybaugh 7 years ago

    The sanitizing white light of truth. Listing aggregation sites are only as good as the sources from which they pull. As the providers of such know they serve no real function if they cannot offer something over and above the data provided by local Realtors via the MLS, they continue to allow these farcical offerings to litter their servers. I am, in turn, both frustrated by the continuing education such misinformation requires we provide prospective clients, and thankful for the job security.

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