When it comes time to buy some piece of computer gadgetry (which, for me, could be any day ending in a Y), I love Newegg.com. It’s not just the price and selection; it’s the user reviews. When I went shopping for a new motherboard and processor, the choices were well-nigh overwhelming. Looking at Newegg’s list of bestsellers and reading all the reviews, though, narrowed it down quickly.
Ditto for Amazon — I especially love the “What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item?” feature. I try to add my two cents when I can, but I have to admit that it’s much more fun to post a negative review. “Does a fine job trimming my weeds” isn’t nearly as satisfying to write as “Caved in half my backyard and felled two small trees — DO NOT BUY.”
Of course, that’s fine and dandy for me (and others who appreciate my sense of humor), but not for the maker of the product. Snarky comments are probably not appreciated.
In the Days of Yore™, this topic wouldn’t apply to real estate. Sure, you’d get some unkind comments and low bids from potential buyers, but you weren’t going to see “I wouldn’t let my dog sleep in those ugly bedrooms” or “Arson would be a good start for this awful house.”
But the times, they have a-changed.
Whether it’s on home-listing or -comment sites (e.g., Zillow.com) or on a Realtor’s blog, this age of comments means that the voice of The People will be heard. And often The People are way, way off key.
All this is to say that, if you’re not thrilled with the idea of the teeming millions weighing in on your home or listing, you’re not alone. The Wall Street Journal just had a piece on the very subject, “Housing Blogs Throw Stones.” A couple of quotes:
The skewering of fancy properties can be wicked fun — unless you’re the owner. One day this month, neuroradiologist Luis Fernandez was taken aback to see his four-story, 4,100-square-foot Brooklyn home, listed for sale at $2.5 million, on Brownstoner.com. The blog razzed Dr. Fernandez’s home, calling it “McMansion chic” and predicting price reductions.
The surge in verbal abuse doesn’t seem to be damaging the housing-blog business. Curbed.com, which has sites for New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, has seen its unique-visitor numbers climb to a million a month from 400,000 a month last year. Traffic has doubled on Brownstoner.com in the past year and spiked 11% in the first two weeks of October, compared to the month prior. At SocketSite.com comments are up about 25% over the past three months alone.