Buyer Beware: Your Facebook Real Estate Expert Might Not Be Well Informed

We just recently listed a home for sale in Midtown Tallahassee, and of course part of our marketing plan included promotion on Facebook. (I use the past-tense "included" as we sold the home in less than 24 hours!).

One of the most important results from marketing a home for sale (in Tallahassee) is to create awareness from people (in Tallahassee), and Facebook can help serve this purpose well.

But it also opens the door to "experts" the world over, and herein lies a great lesson for people looking to buy or sell a home.

If you take guidance from somebody who is a self-anointed expert, you will likely be unhappy with the consequences of your decision.

Here is a great example of the type of "expert" opinion that shows up on Facebook. This is a comment that was entered on the listing mentioned above (that we sold in less than 24 hours) by a Facebook user who felt some obvious animosity towards "realtors in Tallahassee":

Free Real Estate Advice On Facebook

Facebook Real Estate Expert exposed as an unlicensed massage therapist

Facebook Real Estate Expert Exposed

Well, as much genius as there appears to be on display in the image above {note: sarcasm}, it is a perfect example of why it is so important to work with an expert when you sell or buy a home. Bad advice can be found anywhere, especially in public forums where people love to see their own opinions.

This home was priced so well that we had multiple buyers inquire on it BEFORE it formally hit the MLS. If you had been a buyer looking for a great home in Midtown, would this expert's ignorance have cost you a chance at this home?

Here reliance on the tax assessment value on the home is comical (to us real experts). Anybody who has had an active real estate license for more than 5 minutes will tell you that homes are purposely valued well-below market on the Leon County Property Appraisers site. The primary reason that they are discounted is to reduce challenges on over-assessments by taxpayers (which their small, over-worked staff does not have time to handle).

In fact, new valuations typically are rubber-stamped at 80% of the sales price after a new sale. On top of this, there are adjustments made for portable "Save Our Homes" caps, which could end up having a property be valued even far less than 80% of its market value.

Had this "expert" on Facebook even read the Leon County Property Appraiser's statement on "Save Our Homes," she would have recognized that there is no direct association between the market value homes and their value assessment for taxation purposes.

But who needs to know the truth if you are a merely a self-anointed Facebook real estate expert, right?

Here's what an expert would tell you about taxable valuations and why you cannot rely upon them:

Florida voters approved an amendment to the Florida Constitution that limits the amount of assessed value a homestead property could increase on the tax roll each year. The law limits value increases to 3% or a figure equal to the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. Leon County Property Appraiser

So if somebody has owned a home for a long time in Florida, it is HIGHLY likely that its tax value is far below that of its next-door neighbor. Additionally, homeowners can carry this discount forward if they buy another home in Florida. Thus, two homes side by side rarely have the same valuations for tax purposes.

What You Can Trust From Your Facebook "Expert" 

You can expect to see many opinions posted on Facebook.

Well, opinions are like noses, and everybody has one. (I first heard this quote a long time ago, but a different part of the body was used in place of "noses").

If you plan on spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a home (or have that much on the line when you sell a home), do you really want to entrust YOUR MONEY to the opinion of somebody whom you have not qualified first as an expert?

Inform Yourself Before You Buy Or Sell A Home

One way to diminish the impact of bad advice is to be better informed.

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