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Listing high and reducing multiple times is appalingly normal

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Whether it is gaming the system or outright lying, sellers marking prices up just to mark them down ought to be ashamed.

Person typing on a laptop representing the Zeigarnik effect on procrastinating with purpose.

Mark up

Anybody want to buy a bridge? In an ingenious sales technique in no way reminiscent of a subplot from “The Office,” a house flipper in TRD’s beloved hometown of Austin, Texas, priced a sale at twice its value, then “marked it down.” Twenty-three times.

To state the obvious, those price drops were not sincere reassessments of the value of the home.

Incremental price corrections

The price was regularly reduced by nonsensically small amounts of money (my favorite was the two times it was reduced by $1 and $5; you know, I think I’m prepared to skip my latte this morning and buy a better house) and on occasion also artificially inflated. When I say artificially inflated, I mean once it was “accidentally” raised to *insert Dr. Evil voice here* 5 million dollars, then “fixed,” one increment at a time.

The goal, if that’s what we’re calling this, was apparently sort of a My First SEO strategy.

Every price reduction, even the ones I could pay for out of the cushions of my thrift store couch, increased the listing’s visibility on aggregator sites and other applications designed to keep customers informed of meaningful changes in listings.

An outsiders opinion

I am not a Realtor, and I do not regularly flip houses. What I do is wrangle data and live indoors. From the perspective of a communications wonk and a real estate customer, therefore, seriously, don’t.

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Nonsense of this kind is the best way to draw the worst kind of attention.

House flipping already has a reputation for being full of high-energy, low-ability amateurs and general Glengarry fail. This is how you confirm that reputation to any customer smart enough to subtract. Worse, this is how to screw pricing information and turn aggregator tools, which are vital for any self-respecting Realtor’s business, into sub-Craigslist spam farms.

Questionable practice

I’m tempted to call this “gaming the system” but frankly, that’s generous. As shown by the uniformly hostile response in the comments on a story regarding the aforementioned bridge, this doesn’t even rise to the level of a cheat code. This is typing the cheat code in wrong. To be clear, this practice is absolutely legal.

It’s just a painfully unsubtle attempt to hack a decent system. Not a good look.


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Written By

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.


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