You: DUDE. WTF is up with the lack of inventory in the Metro Phoenix market right now?
Me: I know. It’s been really tight for a long time. And certain price ranges are nearly impossible to find a house in.
You: OK, but seriously. This is not alright. I’m ready to buy a house! I’m prequalified! I have like actual money to spend! But there are no houses coming on the market that fit my criteria! It’s sincerely upsetting. IT MAKES ME WANT TO TALK IN ALL CAPS.
Me: Simmer down there, buddy. No shouting. Take a deep breath. I totally get it. It’s an incredibly frustrating market for a lot of people.
You: AND THE GODDAMN INTEREST RATES!! Sorry, I mean, and the interest rates! Have crept up to like 4%! FOUR PERCENT!! My head is exploding!
Me: Um… yes, the interest rates are not going down. This is true. Although can we please acknowledge that 4% is still really amazing as far as interest rates go? Because when you get all stressed out and screamy about 4% it kind of makes me want to punch you in the face over the 6.25% I’m carrying on my mortgage. Just saying.
You: Sorry. Ok, yes, 4% is still pretty good. It’s just making me nervous they’re going to shoot up to 111% like tomorrow before I can even find a house to buy. It’s like every second that ticks by is costing me more and more money and when I think about it I just want to drink tequila straight from the bottle and cry.
Me: No, I can understand that anxiety. And the loss of control is not fun. You feel impotent.
You: Now wait a second here. I’m not sure what you’re implying, but I’m unfamiliar with that sensation.
Me: No one’s doubting that. I’m just saying I can empathize with your frustration.
You: So I know you have me set up on a search of the MLS and that it emails me automatically when anything comes on the market that fits my criteria, but I’m barely getting any emails and what if it’s broken or accidentally missing the perfect house?
Me: It’s unlikely to be broken, but it’s possible that there are houses that fall just outside of the bounds of your criteria that might still work for you. Do you want me to tweak the search?
You: No, I think I’ve got it as open as I’m willing to go, but I have been searching other sites…
Me: I’m sure you have. That’s also a super natural reaction. And you’re a go-getter who likes to have his fate in his own hands. Have you found any houses you want me to pull from the MLS?
You: Yes, these three: 123 Summit Place, 875 Barrow Drive and 666 Lucifer Way.
Me: OK, Summit and Barrow are both under contract. Lucifer closed escrow a month ago.
You: What? Why are they all showing as ‘active’ on sites like Zillow and Homes.com?
Me: Those sites actually pull data directly from the MLS, but they don’t do it instantaneously. Some of them only pull once a week. Also, the MLS currently has a category of listing called ‘UCB’ which stands for Under Contract – Backups, and this pulls in as ‘active’ on many sites. It means they’ve accepted an offer in first position, but they’re willing to hold other offers in backup, in the event the original offers falls out of escrow for some reason.
Me: Sorry, Man. If you find any others, keep sending them to me. I know sometimes it helps stress levels to be actively searching, and there’s always a small chance a house you like might have been listed wrong on the MLS and not popping up on your search.
You: How about this one-
Foreclosure # 187915880, Mesa AZ, 85202
$133,100 | 3 br, 2 ba, 1,296 sqft
Me: Hm… it’s not enough information for me to pull… I need an address or a 7 digit MLS number… where did you find it?
You: On this website. I’ll send you the link. It says I need to register to get the address. Should I register? What if it’s like a special secret website with all of the houses that don’t get listed on the MLS? Maybe I’ve been missing out on all of these perfect houses this entire time!
Me: Let’s take a second to think that through. The banks are kinda dumb, yes. But is there any way you can think of that a scenario where the banks with foreclosure properties to sell would benefit from making them exclusive to one website and difficult for the general public to find? Is it possible at all for it to be in the seller (the bank)’s best interest to decrease competition on the houses they’re trying to move by keeping them off the MLS?
You: No… I guess not.
Me: Many banks actually have guidelines in place that require their properties to be listed for a certain length of time before they will review offers just so they can get as many people in to view and compete over the house. This is the best way to ensure they will get the strongest offers.
You: That makes sense.
Me: But let’s take a look at this house you found and the website to see if we can figure out what’s going on.
You: Please. Because WHAT IF??
Me: OK, so I clicked on the link and this is what I see:
So we’ve got the picture of a cute house with a price of $133,100, a zip code and a square footage, but all of the rest of the info can only be obtained with a registration on the website.
I tried doing a search of the MLS of all active properties in that zip code priced between $130k and $140K, but I didn’t come up with anything that looks like that house.
Next I tried actually registering with the site. It turns out the registration requires a fee-based membership and a credit card number.
You: But all really good things cost something, right? So maybe this is one of those times it will be worth it to pay for the information?
Me: Let me try one more thing. I’m going to do a search of the zip code for all properties with that exact square footage that have sold in the last year.
It was a foreclosure that was listed in January of this year and sold for $153,000 on April 28th.
You: WHAT? So it sold over a month ago for $20K higher than it’s even saying on that stupid site?
You: And I was thinking I needed to give them my credit card info so I could get more pictures! Those sneaky *&^%-^#^*(*& @#$!%^#&@ *&#$%@&*(%#@$.
Me: I just censored you because that was too filthy for even this website.
You: But so deserved.