Last year, the Freakonomics guys helped reveal the type of "code words" that real-estate agents used in describing your home. Basically, there were certain general words they'd use ("charming," "cozy") when there was nothing concrete they could say that was positive. They were basically the real-estate agent's way of hinting that the home wasn't anything special, since they certainly couldn't be honest. However, people who are simply looking at buying homes have no such restrictions. New sites are popping up that allow people who are shopping for homes to post their own reviews of the homes online for others to read. It's kind of like Amazon's reviews, but there's one big difference. Unlike buying a product from Amazon, a home is normally one of a kind -- and the feedback from someone who actually purchased a home is of little use to anyone else, since that home is now off the market. There's little advantage leaving positive feedback for others if you plan on buying the home. That might simply drive up the competition. And, once you've bought the house, the feedback is useless. However, if you want to scare off others, there's plenty of incentive to leave bad feedback. The article also notes that people may be leaving bad reviews of houses in their neighborhood to make their own house look more attractive. In other words, this feedback system doesn't really work. It just encourages negative feedback and has little incentive for positive feedback. While the companies that offer such reviews defend them, it's difficult to see them being nearly as useful as other types of online reviews.
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