What you and your neighbors complain about online can cost you a lot of money.
Neighbor Spats Online May Cost You Deals
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, DECEMBER 01, 2015
Neighbors are increasingly turning to the Internet to vent about one another, their homeowner’s associations, or boards. The public rants can dampen a neighborhood’s reputation, and possibly even affect property values, real estate professionals say.
Social media has given people more platforms to speak their minds, especially since they can do it behind closed doors — they don’t have to face the people that they’re arguing with,” Stacey R. Patterson, a real estate lawyer who represents condos and co-ops in New York and New Jersey, told The New York Times. “Between chat rooms and Facebook pages, you set up anything and you can start a war.”
You can also land in a lawsuit. In a recent case in Brooklyn, N.Y., residents disgruntled with their co-op board launched public websites that criticized board members and how the building is managed. The board members, in response, filed defamation lawsuits.
“As more buildings get a web presence and people generally become more web aware, you’re going to start having your dissident fights on the Internet,” says Dean M. Roberts, the corporate counsel for Trump Village Section 4, a complex in Coney Island, Brooklyn, with three-bedroom apartments that sell for around $450,000.
At the Trump Village Section 4, residents launched a website, TV4 United or TV4News.org. The board members sued some of the residents for defamation as comments became common from residents like “why we let a dirty no good politicians [sic] destroy our investment?”
A judge ruled this summer the case had enough merit to proceed.
Some property managers and board members say these websites allow renters and home owners to vent but can be misleading and jeopardize home sales.
“What do you do when Ms. O’Leary, the crazy cat woman in 5C, starts putting up these postings and you’re trying to sell your apartment?” Roberts says. “It’s hard to delineate the truthfulness of some Internet stuff because crazy cat woman’s comments look the same as the board president’s comments.”
Review sites such as Yelp have also become a popular place for others to post critical comments on various apartment complexes.
Indeed, real estate professionals say they believe the sites may be costing them deals. “I’ve had good sales there, but could I have had better sales? Could I have had more buyers? I don’t know,” says John Cerrone, a salesman at Douglas Elliman.
“To say that people are openly expressing dissatisfaction and to say that cannot have an effect, I think that’s naïve.”