Thursday, November 15, 2007
Truth in Advertising
I was minding my own business today at lunch. Idly munching on a sandwich reading the weekly Real Estate marketing newspaper's condo section when something dawned on me. It was like a bright light on a gray day, as if the clouds opened up and a single beam of sunlight had penetrated through creating my own little private opening of Highway to Heaven. What was this brilliant insight, you ask?
Truth in advertising. It's missing from the real estate market. But it's law in the securities industry. Why isn't truth in advertising required for the "investment" that is constantly being pumped in this town?
Case in point: The Julia is having a hard time selling out right now. The ad in question states "priced below market value to sell out the project." How can something be priced below market value? It simply can't. Market value is the value the market will bear and the only time somethings' market value can be determined is at the exact moment that it is sold. And market value is constantly changing as a result.
So they could have written priced below assessed value. Except that they haven't been assessed yet. They could have written priced below appraised value. Except appraised value has nothing to do with investing. And these "marketing systems" are about making me think I'm going to be rich by buying this over-priced 2-bedroom condo.
Market value tells me that there is a market for this product and the price will fluctuate. Telling me that I can buy a unit below market value is the same as telling me that I can buy the unit today and sell it for more tomorrow simply because I got it for less than market value. Which is clearly not true.
I also noticed that there are a number of Rennie wannabes springing up in this town. It seems every Realtor with a condo listing is somehow an owner of a Marketing System TM.
At one point in time in the BC Legislature a normal citizen could enter a bill for legislation to make a law. I'm not sure if this is still possible, but I believe it is time for all investments to be subject to the same disclosure laws as securities. I can see the headlines when the market turns "Angry citizens outraged by guaranteed investment salespeople, used to be known as Realtors."