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    Thoughts on Transparency in Real Estate

    3 min read
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    Porter Farthing
    Head of Operations

    This week I was working on another Trusty collection of homes called “5 outrageous overbids in this crazy market”.  The intention of the post was just as it sounds, to find and share some real life examples of incredible differences between the initial asking price and final sale price of some recent closings.  It’s no secret that real estate is in uncharted territory when it comes to astronomical jumps in value over the last few years.  Whatever historical growth metrics you use, we are past all sense of ‘average’ price increases with this year's activity.  Surely some crazy examples of outrageous bids on homes would tell a story of an overcooked market and provide some great fodder for the Trusty activity feed! It did and will, so keep an eye out for that post later in the week.  But this week’s newsletter is not about those homes specifically, it’s about what I learned during the research and how it relates to Trusty.

    Keep in mind, I’ve been researching and studying real estate for almost 20 years as a real estate agent, business owner and rental property advisor.  So analyzing market trends isn’t new to me.  What immediately jumped out at me: among literally hundreds of articles about bidding wars and price jumps, it wasn’t the stories that were missing, it was the facts.  Plenty of agents shared how many bids they received, with no way of verifying that number, and how much “above asking” they got for their clients, with no background or supporting detail that the house was drastically underpriced.  No specifics, no addresses, and no easy way to confirm the details of the story.  Certainly no insights on why that home had a bidding war, and not others in the neighborhood. How does that benefit real estate buyers, sellers and consumers in any way?

    In fact, there’s nowhere that I could find to even search for discrepancy between asking and list price. I’m a member of multiple MLS’s, the ‘home’ of real estate search data and they don’t provide it as a search function.  Zillow definitely doesn’t supply it, and you have to dig to find the price history at all.  SF GATE, the website of the San Francisco chronicle, has picked up on the sensationalism of outrageous overbids, but they don’t share too many details outside of quoting the listing agents.  If you look for pics, you get messages like “photos of this home are no longer available”. Can you imagine if after a car was sold, details and images of that model didn’t appear online? Or reviews weren’t available to others buying similar vehicles? What makes houses so different? 

    One of my favorite conversations I’ve had since joining Trusty was with a Sacramento local discussing a home which received 122 offers, and got tons of media coverage. What that knowledgeable and honest person told me was “Oh, well everybody knows that agent really screwed up the list price”...Whoa! I didn’t know that, I just saw the click bait headline on CNN.com. 

    Why isn’t there a place where you can get the real scoop on real estate?  Why isn’t there a safe place for people to share their insights and knowledge in an honest way to benefit others through the wisdom of crowds?

    We’re building it, thank you for joining in to add to the conversation.  Trusty believes that the real estate industry needs a lot more transparency to make buying, selling or browsing houses a better experience for us all. 

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