Paul and I have had an eye on the real estate markets for a couple of years now, and like to visit houses for sale when we can. We are sort-of in the market, though not really at today's prices.
A couple of weekends ago, we visited one that reaffirmed my "reasons I never trust a real estate agent." Bells went off in my head when I read the ad anyway. Listed as a 3/3 (that's 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms) in a nearby neighborhood that I actually like. Sure, it, like all other listings around here, was waaaaaaayyyyyy overpriced for the local fundamentals, but that doesn't seem to matter to a lot of people.
But the ad, it read "one bedroom currently configured as loft." Which? Made no sense to me. There are rooms that are structural, and there are rooms that can be swapped out. Garages, kitchens, bathrooms, and lofts have structural qualities. Bonus rooms, dens, bedrooms, maybe an office, these I can see interchanging. But hey, I can be wrong, and we went to see it.
First, the 3 bathrooms were actually 2.5, a fine detail, but second, this was a two bedroom house. The third "bedroom currently configured as loft" was indeed a small loft, open on one side to the living room below (it really had two walls, and no door), not big enough for anything but maybe a twin bed and nothing else, had no closet, had to be walked through to get to the actual bedroom, and most importantly? WASN'T A GODDAMM BEDROOM AT ALL, AS ANY PERSON WHO'D EVER LIVED IN A HOUSE COULD TELL YOU. It was the landing at the top of the stairs. The landing at the top of the stairs of the house I grew up in was bigger, and had more walls, and closet space.
Who cares? I do. We've been looking at really dishonest listings for a long time now. All the relisting to hide price changes and days on market, the insulting abuse of fisheye lenses to try to make a kitchen look bigger (bigger, and spherical), and, the classic fake furniture to trick you into thinking full-sized furniture would fit in the room of the house they are trying to sell you for 40-50% too many dollars is totally out of hand. And I wonder how much longer people will take it.
At this particular house, for the first time since we've been visiting open homes (a few years) another party also snuck out in outrage at the overpricing. (there have been multiple occasions where Paul and I have snuck out the back exit of a property to avoid having to face the real estate agent on the way out) Too embarrassed to face the agent in the face of an inflated price for a not-up-to-the-listing house? Me too!
When we are ready to buy, I am not sure we'll want anything to do with a real estate agent. I've just been too fed up with the loose interpretation of reality and shady practices. Will Realtors(tm) go the way of the travel agent? I hope transparency will cut through the worst of them and put them out of business. For us, a little research and sunlight on the housing bubble a few years back kept us out of the market, even as we had a loan officer trying to convince us to "use more leverage" based on our qualifications. We are those fabled solid buyers that everyone is seeking right now, and hell no, we won't buy your overpriced 3/3 with "bedroom currently configured as loft." I suppose the attic is currently configured as sky, and the basement currently configured as dirt?
(ps, since visiting, this listing was updated to show 2.5 baths, and the price was dropped $50K. Which is still way too much)