Accurate Property Information is More Important Than Ever
The importance of accurate information may never be more evident than during a pandemic. One of the most critical reasons we need correct data is the price we pay when it is incorrect.
Being a Realtor® in Pennsylvania during the pandemic has been somewhat challenging, but not without its rewards. Many of the tools I use to assist my clients with buying and selling a home got stripped away. To be effective, I had to adapt and overcome by replacing those tools with more efficient ones suitable for the situation.
One thing evident was that people would try to purchase homes sight unseen. In the real estate world, the phrase "Sight Unseen" means the buyer did not physically visit the property. You can view all the photos and video of a home you want, and it will not take the place of physically being there. In my 27 years as a licensed Realtor®, I was only involved in two such situations. It is even rare to see a husband or wife buy a home without the other visiting the house.
The critical service enhancement would be to provide as much media as possible, along with tons of accurate property data and information. The photos and videos would help with the sight part of the equation. The information overload could help compensate for the lack of sense perception of physically being at the property (touch, smell, hearing). Then there is the sixth sense. Some people feel a certain way about a place. It almost cannot be explained, but I have heard more than one buyer say, "this place just feels right." This "sixth sense" is often the intangible that makes everyone happy in a real estate deal, and that was a key takeaway during the shut-in. That special feeling would have to be derived from, you guessed, more information about the property.
Trying to Provide Accurate Property Information
In my pursuit of better information to handle the circumstances previously discussed, I ended up wrestling with the oft errored data provided by the Berks County Assessment Office. Every three years, or so, I take issue with the incorrect property information provided by the Berks County Assessment Office. You can read my past articles on the subject on my website blog by searching Google for "Berks County Public Records ~ What a Mess" and " Bad Home Data Can Lead to Bad Real Estate Deals."
A couple of properties I am presently putting up for sale had the wrong address listed in their assessment record. As one can imagine trying to market a property with the incorrect address is not a good practice, pandemic or not, and can be destructive. It wreaks havoc with GPS mapping and directions.
I have contacted the Assessment Office on numerous occasions, including recently. To date, I have yet to experience any reported error changes. The Assessment Office stated, "The present system is 30 years old, and a new one is on the way." They also said, "There are numerous road names that need to be corrected."
I believe the people at the Berks County Assessment Office work hard and do a good job. Unfortunately, In our present situation, a good job may not be enough. It is time for the greatly valued Assessment Office of Berks County to adapt and overcome. I beg them not to wait an undisclosed amount of time for a "new system" when some errors can be corrected now.
Given the opportunity, I believe local real estate brokerages and agents could assist in the task of information collection and correction. All we need is a willing participant in the effort.
This Realtor® believes we need to do everything possible and work together to best the circumstances at hand. Accurate information about health is at the top of the "Info Most Wanted" list, and a close second might be economics-As it relates to the dream of homeownership, accurate property information matters!
Knowledge is Power!
Jeffrey C. Hogue