Have you heard of Angie’s List? I hadn’t until about a year ago when I was googling local handymen in my area. I figured it was another one of those forums with a bunch of spam postings and fake user reviews. Well my narrow sightedness probably cost me a few thousand dollars and lots of unnecessary stress! You see, in the past year since I discovered that Angie’s List existed I have sold my house, hired a real estate attorney, purchased a new home, hired a moving company (twice), contracted a home inspector, and purchased a radon mitigation system for my house. Every one of those tasks included some kind of outsourcing that I could have researched and contacted via Angie’s List. Instead I google’d random search terms and found local people with decent online reviews and competent looking websites. BIG MISTAKE!
Let me start off by telling you about how I sold my home. My wife and I were eager to move to another area in the city that we lived in, and I actually had purchased my house prior to us getting married, so a new home would feel like something we both picked out together. The uptick in the local real estate market coupled with the lowest interest rates of all time made last summer the perfect storm for selling our house and making the move. My first mistake was to use a real estate agent. I don’t want to offend anyone in the profession but in a red hot market that we experienced this past summer I fail to see the benefit an agent provides that is equal to 3% of the sale price of my home. In the end, our problem ended up being that our selling agent was the same as the buyers agent, and don’t let them tell you differently…this is a conflict of interest! She knows exactly what they want to buy a house for, and exactly what we want to sell it for, which is a perfect combination of her maxing out the commission and having us give away stuff inside our house to appease the buyers. This however is not what angered me, rather I was upset that she basically lied and allowed the buyers to delay their closing to shop around other homes, convincing us that the delay in closing was all paperwork related. In the end, the agent, the mortgage company (same one I used on my previous 2 refinances, and purchase), and the buyers were all in cahoots to delay the closing while they shopped around for something better. The end result was that they back out of closing the night before, and we lost out on the home we were trying to buy because of that. If only I had researched local agents on Angie’s List rather than trying to seek one out on my own…most of them are only a small step above a used car salesman.
OK, so I eventually sold me house a couple months later…ON MY OWN! Oh yeah, it’s easy to do and I may publish a post soon on just how easy it really is. You will see a lot of advice on hiring a real estate attorney if you go this route, but let me tell you that isn’t at all necessary, and could even have a negative effect. My second mistake in selling my house was hiring a real estate attorney, an incompetent one that charged me $750 to write a few drafts of a simple Word document I could have done myself in 5 minutes. She offered little to no concrete advice, and I learned in the process that she was using a real estate agent herself to sell her current home. I should have asked for a refund right then and there. Well in the midst of attempting to purchase my new home she worded some lingo incorrectly on the contract and the buyer was almost able to back out of the deal, and keep my secured funds I had put down as good faith…which amounted to $10,000. I almost choked, then I got angry, then sad, and finally relieved when the seller didn’t pursue the issue further. My point is, had I paid the few measly dollars for an Angie’s List account I could have searched out reputable real estate attorneys with positive reviews from real people rather than winging it on my own.
So I’ve mentioned I bought and sold a home, which means I must have moved, right? I actually had a short stint at my in-laws over the summer, so I had to move a few times, all of which required a moving company. When my wife and I got married we purchased some new furniture, mainly because I had been living in an unfurnished house as a swinging bachelor. These days I’m wishing we would’ve continued eating off the coffee table and sharing the tiny couch I owned, because as the movers I recently hired told me “furniture is for living on, not moving”…which coincidentally was their excuse for why every piece of furniture I own incurred massive amounts of damage. For a mere $1,200 they were able to knick, dent, destroy, and obliterate every single piece of furniture I asked them to move…EXCEPT for the few pieces they left in storage and just simply forgot to load onto the truck, yay! I google searched several companies and found them to have quite a few positive reviews online, so I was surprised when they not only destroyed my belongings, but flat out refused to do anything about it. Upon subsequent looks at those reviews I noticed that most of them were made by family and friends of the owners. It’s actually not that hard to google stalk people, and wish I had done that from the beginning. Had I searched out Angie’s List I would’ve been able to find a dozen reputable movers that had dozens of positive reviews from real people, and the prices all appeared to be cheaper than what I had paid for the worst service you can imagine.
I could go on and on about my dealings with travel agents, hotels, booking sites, auto repair shops, catering services, etc…but I won’t continue to bore you with my bitching. What I will say is that I finally wised up and decided to try out my friends Angie’s List account to see what the offerings were like. I need a Radon mitigation system put into my house, it’s a nasty little toxic gas that is common in my area, and I thought I would do myself a favor this time around and use Angie’s List for research purposes. Well I found a company with about 500 positive reviews, and they were about $400 cheaper than I was being told by a shady company with awful reviews that I ALMOST chose based on a recommendation from a home inspector. I feel like I may have dodged a bullet on this one. My parents are in the process of getting quotes for replacing the 30 year old roof on their home, so I logged back onto Angies List to grab five reputable companies with positive reviews. They were using the old “drive by a sign and call it” method, but its 2014…no need for the archaic methods of outsourcing. I want to personally apologize to Angie’s List, I initially thought that paying for a service to find another service was just a waste of money…but I have no problems admitting when I’m wrong!