A blog reader sent me a link for a new site that intends to (according to their website) do the folllowing:
“We are the first real estate search engine of its kind that helps you find bad neighbors before you move so you don’t regret the purchase of your new house, home, condo or apartment.”
The site is http://www.rottenneighbor.com/
I’ve looked at this site and would sum it up as a good idea but a poor implementation. A lot of the posts I looked at were slanderous and racist. While the terms and conditions prohibit these type of postings, they also state they aren’t responsible for anything on their site, nor do they monitor the posts. The biggest problem with this site is that when you post, it’s 100% anonymous. This isn’t they type of anonymous where you need to register and then the posts don’t have your name, you don’t even need to register on this site to post. You can walk up to one of the Internet-connected PCs that they have all over campus at Cal Poly and post whatever you want to say about a person and there’s no way to be held accountable. If you post from your home PC, there may be a way to track back to that PC if they keep the IP address of the post which they don’t say they do.
Also on the website, it says this:
“Real estate agents will never tell you about bad neighbors.”
The problem with this statement is that it’s the Sellers that know the neighborhood and need to disclose this type of information. The real estate agent must also disclose material facts too but it’s silly to think that an agent knows what’s going on in a neighborhood unless they live there too. Now, if a real estate agent is told something by the Seller, the real estate agent might need to disclose it.
It gets fuzzy because of what someone would consider a “bad” neighborhood too. Since people have property rights, they can do whatever they want to on their property unless they violate a law. One neighbor might not like someone with a woodcraft hobby because they were sawing wood in their garage at 8 pm at night while someone else might not like their neighbor being in a bookclub that meets weekly which causes cars parked in front of their home. Are either of these needed to be disclosed to a potential Buyer as a neighborhood issue??
It all comes down to due dilegence. The Buyer needs to do the research. Be that walking the neighborhood at night, talking to neighbors, or even creating their own questions to submit to the Seller. There is nothing to stop a Buyer from asking the Seller “Are there any dogs on the street that you hear barking more than a minute a day?”.
The rottonneighbor site also believes that more Buyers are looking to the Internet for guidance. That is true. So I agree that having information to help make a good decision is critical. To me, it would be nice to have the ability to search a local Police department’s log to see what calls were made to homes in a neighborhood. This would show if there were any barking dog complaints, suspected drug-dealing homes, neighbor disputes that got ugly, etc.
I don’t see a future for the RottenNeighborhood.com site unless they change the way people generate the posts. The site intends to make money by getting Realtors to advertise on their site. Since the site says they aren’t responsible for the posts, and the people posting are anonymous, maybe the advertisers will be the ones getting sued for slander.