Property Grunt

Monday, May 04, 2009

Fair Game

I can't believe this was actually a movie.

The New York Times did not just do one but squeezed out two article out of a subject that could have been condensed into one article. I guess this their version of double spacing a term paper so it fits the requirements of two pages.

Snark Attack

Bulletproofing Begins at the Open House

The first article is about the online sniping that occurs on real estate listings in blogs and other sites and how brokers and sellers deal the fall out.

The second article argues that the best way to defeat snark is staging an offensive at an open house.

Honestly, there is nothing anyone can do about snark. Once a listing is put online, everything is up for grabs. The internet is a free fire zone and with the distance that is created with a computer and the anonymity, it is very easy for people to hit below the belt on a regular basis. I am not saying it is right. I am just saying it is what it is.

It is good to know that Curbed and other blogs are taking control of the situation.

Mr. Waxenberg spends about two hours a week on StreetEasy’s forums, where among other things he posts reviews of the open houses he attends.

“The discussion runs along two tracks generally,” he said. “Pricing is one. The other half is how a property showed on a particular day — the layout, the space, the light, the building, the location. Are they showing the property to its best advantage? Is the broker doing a good job, or is it made impossible by the way the owner inhabits the space? You don’t need calla lilies on the console table, but just understand that anything that is glaringly bad is going to get mentioned by someone and it’s never going away.”

True enough, said Lockhart Steele, the founder and president of Curbed. “We err on the side of giving readers freedom,” he said. “We remove comments that cross the line into personal slander, like making fun of someone or revealing extremely personal information, like posting a phone number.”

Brownstoner and StreetEasy take a similarly hands-off approach.

Despite these efforts, I feel that it is only a matter of time before some broker or seller is going go completely apes**t and begins to sue people left and right. And the lawyers won't just stop at the blogs and forums, they are going to want to the blood of the commentors. Sounds impossible right? With the right judge, court orders can be issued to strip those sites bare for IP addresses that will lead to those who have snarked. It won' t happen over night since it will cost a lot of money for someone to pursue this, but it can't be ruled out.

To all those sellers and brokers, your reputation is a carpet and everyone is going to step on it. So you are either going to need an ample supply of carpets or be ready to clean it as much as possible.