If It Is Too Good to Be True...
The voice of my father rings in my head whenever I hear the phrase, "If it's too good to be true it probably is." Yet, like moths to a flame, buyers are drawn to waste time and energy chasing the impossible dream. This weekend, two separate buyers I am helping, each fell hard for a listing they found on a website that starts with a color and ends with an anatomical fish part. Blue Tail? Close enough.
Each of my buyers are barely qualified to go above $280,000. In my market, that's a price range dominated by condos. However, as any buyer agent knows, high condo fees often knock a buyer who is tight on budget, out of qualification. When I draw their attention to the fee simple townhouses that are small, old and outdated the thrill of house hunting goes away in a flash. Every buyer wants the shiny, new renovation with loads of space. Most buyers ultimately want to land in a single family home. However, there are no skipping steps when it comes to lily pad jumping. Lily pad jumping is getting into a property, building equity and selling that former property to move up to another property. These steps are repeated over a property or two, maybe three, until you have the lily pad you want. There is no short cutting the first jump into the stream of lily pads....not unless you have hit the lottery. But once you have landed on the first lily pad, it is not as hard to move up to the next lily pad, and the next, etc.
Enter Blue Tail and their listing of a For Sale By Owner in historic Manassas. It is a two level single family home, four bedroom, two bathroom that is renovated from top to bottom. The price? Well, being familiar with the area from house hunting, a low price would be $500,000. But this home is listed for $268,500. Both buyers find it and light up. Their dream home! One buyer accepts that this is too good to be true. The other must see it NOW.
Let's talk a minute about Blue Tail's website. This FSBO is listed on the site and there to the right is a "partner agent." I email the partner agent through the website. I also look up the agent in the MLS and find that they do not actually work for Blue Tail. They work for an entirely different company. Whatever. Maybe the agent forgot to update their brokerage in the MLS. This morning, the true partner agent on Blue Tail that did get back to me did so with an attitude. Apparently, identifying myself as an agent was like taking a bat to the hornets nest.
"I'm not sure why you thought Joe Johnson was the partner agent on this listing. You should use the MLS to find the property. It is a FSBO and not our listing." Not only that, but then came the clarification, "And its true list price is $628,500."
The Blue Tail agent was fuming. Why? It is her company's website that has trolled a boat load of buyers in my market, two of which are mine and now crashing down to reality again! Why is she mad at me?
If this doesn't give buyers a reality check that Blue Tail is not a reliable resource, I don't know what will. They may have a great user interface and offer rebates to gain buyer clients, but in my world accurate listing information is the first place to start. And from there, hiring an agent that works for more than someone who flips hamburgers after school so you have someone who actually understands the market.
If it seems too good to be true, it almost always is. And whenever you think you have found buried treasure on Blue Tail's site, get in touch with a tried and true professional real estate agent for some fact checking.
There are no short cuts to getting your ultimate, end game dream home, but sites like Blue Tail will always make you think there could be. Make the best choice you can to get into the stream of lily pads and you'll eventually get where you want to be. Standing on side of the stream looking for aberrations on Blue Tail's website just wastes the real opportunities passing you by.