Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Confused Trulia Buyer

I've made it a personal mission to put out the word about Zillow's misleading "Zestimates" and how they do a disservice to the buying public.  After all, is it just a coincidence that Zillow came into prominence in 2006, at the same time the real estate bubble began to burst?  Anyway, I digress.

Now another confused potential Sarasota area home buyer has apparently registered on Trulia for a user account, and gets updates on "new listings" from Trulia and their syndication partners like RealtyTrac.  View this buyer's confused plea for help on Trulia here:  http://bit.ly/JYxxT8

No wonder the public is confused.

Does anyone think it's a good business practice to entice mass numbers of prospective buyers and sellers with misleading "listings" that aren't actually available?  Is it good business practice to then sell those so-called "hot leads"to local Realtors, whose job it will be to explain how Trulia and Zillow don't provide MLS information?

Imagine how the conversation will go after you tell the sheepish buyer or seller: "I'm so sorry you fell for Trulia/Zillow's misleading marketing.  They don't really care about selling you a house or condo.  Their business plan is to get Realtors and related businesses to advertise on their site.  But since I paid to respond to your inquiry and hopefully get you as a client, I am here to rescue you with the truth."

Fellow Realtors, we need to seriously reassess our ties with Trulia and Zillow.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Canadian Buyers: What You Need to Know about Florida Home Finders

Today I had a visitor to my website ask me about a Canadian-based company called Florida Home Finders.  I had not heard of them, but took the opportunity to visit their website and investigate.

What they are doing may not be illegal, but it is highly misleading for their prospective clients.

As a Canadian national, there are NO legal or contractual differences between a Canadian citizen and a US citizen buying property in Florida, with the exception of course, of currency exhange.  You can read more about this on my page for Canadian buyers on my website.   

You absolutely do not need to go to a seminar in Canada to buy real estate in Florida!  You should not sign any kind of representation agreement in these seminars, nor should you pay a dime to attend.  You may lose your legal ability to purchase FL real estate without their involvement.

My research shows that Florida Home Finders are licensed real estate brokers in Canada only, not in Florida.  In the state of Florida, you cannot legally act as the representative of a buyer or seller unless you are a licensed real estate professional.  The company has no access to currently available MLS data, since you must have a Florida real estate license to belong to a local Realtor association.

Florida Home Finders may be doing one of two things: they are assigning contracts to buyers, or they are employing local licensed Realtors through referral agreements.  On their "Why Buy Through Us?" page, they say their properties are not foreclosures or short sales, yet their email marketing says the properties are at "foreclosure prices".  Legally speaking, they themselves do not have the legal ability to list or market properties for sale because they are not a licensed FL real estate broker.

The customer who contacted me about this company forwarded an email about builder closeouts in Vintage Grande in Palmer Ranch in Sarasota.  They are marketing "40 builder closeouts" in their promotional email.  That's odd, since Vintage Grand was built in 1989.  And according to the MLS, there are only 11 units currently available for sale as of this morning, which you can view in this link.  Furthermore, they say many of these units come with a tenant in place.  That is totally false.  Of the 11 units available, none of them appear rented to a current tenant, as their marketing describes.

I can name a few more condo developments that are as good if not better investments than Vintage Grand.

Bottom line: Canadians need an experienced, trusted local Sarasota FL Realtor to represent their interests in purchasing a property in Florida, who knows the local market best.