Using Trulia Voices for Phoenix Real Estate: Caveat Emptor

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentThe question posted on Trulia Voices: “How do I find out the average increase in value of a home in a year?”

It seems the person asking the question is debating a lowball offer on a property here in the Phoenix real estate market and wants to justify it by determining what the value would have been now if not for the escalation of prices in 2005. (Does this sound familiar? It should.)

Among the responses …

“A better idea is to have a Realtor who knows the area well do a comparative market analysis for you using the property of interest as a basis. And be sure that only RECENT sold comparables are used (I mean, within the last 3 months, even, given the undergoing correction of the market) to help you arrive at the fair price.” – from Chicago

“This is one of the many things a Realtor can do for you. If you find a good agent in your area, ask them if they can keep you abreast of the market. Lots of Realtors would jump at the opportunity to put you on an informational mailing list, I know I would :-” – from California

“Get a real idea of property values by visiting the assessors office in the area of Phoenix where you are considering, and this will help you see actual numbers to determine whether or not a property is really overpriced. ” – from New Orleans

“I would recommend that your agent prepare a comparative market analysis and send it along with the offer to justify the offering price. That’s more compelling than statistical data about historic appreciation and depreciation rates” – from Ahwatukee (yes, an actual local answer.)

In truth, caveat emptor doesn’t apply because the person asking the question isn’t paying for the answers they receive. That’s the entire point of Trulia Voices, and the one that is missed over and over and over again by agents whose primary answer is to say that the person need only consult a real estate agent.

By and large these folks don’t want to consult an agent, at least on a “formal” enough basis that there’s the slightest hint of implied agency. So telling them to go consult with an agent defeats the entire purpose.

As I said yesterday we traffic in knowledge. It’s our product. From a business standpoint, there’s little harm in providing some of that knowledge through a platform such as Trulia Voices since it’s possible someone who finds value in an answer may decide they want to work with the person who provided it. But that knowledge appears severely watered down when its surrounded by the usual NAR Consult a REALTOR drivel.

It also is watered down when answers that don’t apply to a local area are provided. For example, there’s only one assessor’s office for the Phoenix area. Maybe it’s different in Louisiana and there are city-level assessors, but locally in Phoenix the lone assessor’s office is the Maricopa County Assessor. (Pinal County has its own if you’re looking either in Queen Creek or Maricopa.)

We’ll also assume that the answer meant “visit” in a virtual sense; the Maricopa County assessor has a fairly handy website and there’s no need to drive to downtown Phoenix to access the exact same information.

It’s not a case of caveat emptor. It’s more a case of vos adepto quis vos persolvo pro. Most of the time, you get what you pay for.

[tags]real estate marketing, Phoenix real estate[/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