I would like to live 5 minutes from the Plaza

“Oh, that is certainly a beautiful home and I so love it. But I am going to have to pass on it because it is so far from the Plaza. It’s really  sad that the homes I like and can afford are so far from the Plaza, and those that are really close won’t work for me”.

Read some real estate ad text for area homes and see how long it takes to find a reference to how many minutes the home is from the Plaza. Just yesterday I read an ad for a beautiful home in the hills above Santa Fe that stated it was five minutes from the Plaza. Why do people do this? Why do they fib about how long it would take to get from a certain house to the Plaza? Are that many people going to the Plaza that often? No, it is just a point of reference, giving a prospective Buyer a gauge by which to determine the approximate location relative to the Plaza and downtown Santa Fe. And yet, the level of dishonesty in those ads is staggering. The one specific home ad text I read is for a home that I know the location of. If you were in the public right of way in front of this home and already traveling at least 50 miles an hour, and you were somehow able to maintain that speed as you drove all the way to the Plaza, without other traffic to hinder your progress, without stop lights to make you hit the brakes, you could get there in five minutes. A more realistic drive time might be 10 to 12 minutes. Does mention of five minutes make the home sexier? Will it make the difference to a Buyer thinking of selecting that home over another home that is closer or further from the Plaza?

To me, these sorts of fibs can be just the tip of the iceberg when looking for factual information about a property, or a mortgage product, or some land you are considering. If the listing agent (and the Seller, who is well aware of the ad text) think they can get away with telling you that the property is five minutes from the Plaza, what else are bending the truth about? Or rather what else are they choosing to forget to tell you about the property you are looking at? The most common mistake Realtors make when listing or selling property is in the area of disclosure. By now you probably get the idea of what I am writing about: only work with professionals that understand and practice full disclosure. Don’t allow anyone to brush off a question you have with a tidy statement like “That’s never been an issue around here” or “that hillside view will never change because the area is a park” or “everyone I have represented was happy with my level of service”.

How many minutes to the Plaza? …not the most important question to ask when looking at property in Santa Fe. How about land use and zoning, restrictions on certain things such as adding a 2nd story, requirements that a homeowner might have to petition the Historical Styles organization for permission to enclose a rear facing portal that none of the neighbors can even see? What about sources of water, how household waste is handled, long-term plans for the busy road that intersects with your new street just 100 yards away? What are the property taxes? And how is the value arrived at? Since I am potentially paying less than the current owner did four years ago (that’s another column at another time), shouldn’t my taxes be lowered once I close? What school district is this? And then the questions can switch over to money; how long will it take to get a mortgage, or what’s wrong with my writing a check at closing? So many things can go sideways when you are buying a home, or selling a home, or representing either as a real estate professional. Just consider the number of people involved and then multiply by three to get the opportunities for something to need immediate attention. They used to say that a married couple could truly test the strength of their marriage by building a new home together. Now it might have evolved to where you can almost say the same thing for purchasing a home with mortgage financing. That universe has evolved so much in the last couple years that making promises and setting deadlines has become a fool’s game. Patience is the most valuable thing to bring to the table in a real estate transaction. If someone is in a hurry, they might as well run around the block, since few of the other parties will be able to cooperate with an urge to speed things up.

So next time you want to get out your stopwatch and check how long it takes to get to the Plaza from a home listed for sale, can I ride along with you and verify the number please? Just one of my pet peeves.


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