Craigslist Craziness

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 4:04am.

If you ever jump over to Craigslist to look for real estate for sale (MBC offers this link to MB homes on Craigslist in the sidebar), you probably know that chaos reigns there.

Often the headlines scream "too good to be true," and you know what they say about things that sound that way. Mmmm-hmmm.

Squeezed between the FSBOs and faux-FSBOs, the REOs and faux-REOs, and advertisements by real estate agents for properties they are not actually selling, there are also some postings by the actual agents selling some homes.

And then there's one current posting that is a little bit of all these things. A posting that just keeps appearing and reappearing and re-reappearing, raising more questions than it answers. The listing is for 432 24th, a 3br/3ba, 1968 sq. ft. condo in MB. (Click address for listing details from the MLS via Redfin.)

The actual listing agent is posting this property constantly on Craigslist. A search using this link as of Monday night shows 3 postings of the same property on Monday, 2 on Sunday, 2 on Saturday, 3 more back on Friday... you get the picture.

A typical headline:
$1299999 Manhattan beach tri-level with 2 car garage and carport! MUST SELL
What's not typical: That $1.299m is not the only price given.

There's also:
$1199888 MUST SELL BY END OF NEXT WEEK! ONLY 1,199,888! PRINCIPALS ONLY!
Wow, a $100k discount depending on which Craiglist ad you click on!

What about the MLS price? Can you believe it's a steeper discount?

As of Monday afternoon, 432 24th is offered for $1.075m on the MLS. In fact, for a week since it returned to the MLS on March 16, after a hiatus (the listing began last year), it was at $1.099m, before that recent, little cut.

All along, as a buyer, you would have been better off not bargain-hunting on Craiglist.

According to the Redfin listing page (click here for the listing or the pic to enlarge this screen shot), those other 2 higher prices were set on Dec. 11, 2008, and Dec. 12, 2008.

So that $1.299m price was good for exactly 1 day last year, even though it was posted at that price Monday morning at 9am (click to view the Craigslist ad).

Something is askew here, though not fraudulent, exactly. When trolling for out-of-town rubes on Craigslist, one might be well advised go ahead and bump the price up and see if you get a nibble, then maybe offer a "special deal" to those who make contact.

We do wonder about another "time-sensitive" part of the come-on with the listings on this particular home.

That "must sell" language is matched in the listings by claims that the property must be sold "by the end of next week" (from a Friday posting, also click pic to enlarge) or "by Monday" (from a Monday posting) or "this week" (this other Monday posting).

Hold on! By when? Which Monday?

Is it even true that the property "must sell" so quickly?

Over at PropertyShark.com, we found some indications that a loan went bad last Summer and the property was slated for a Trustee's Sale in November. It doesn't look like the auction happened (they often get postponed), though title passed to a couple of LLCs. We're not going to untangle that net here.

You know a story is busy and bizarre when it takes us this long to mention that 432 24th is currently priced well below acquisition.

In January 2005, the condo was purchased for $1.247m. If you can get it for $1.075m now, that's a $172k discount (-14%) off the price from 4 years ago.

A mil for a big condo kinda near the beach, steps to the school... you might have something here, if you can guide us through the madness that is this property's internet footprint at this point.
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