By Rona Fischman

Today, I spoke to a fellow who was thinking of hiring us for his search in Lexington. I offered him a reference of a couple who recently bought there. He asked me if I knew the address. “Of course,” I said. Then I told him, “26 Hayes Lane, Lexington.”

After I got off the phone, I grew curious what I’d find if I Googled that address. What I found was rather depressing. The quality of information on line, frankly… well, it stinks. Along with the expected pages from agents, the big real estate sites of Trulia and Zillow were way up in the rankings.

Truila says: “This is a Single-Family Home located at 26 Hayes Lane, Lexington MA. 26 Hayes Ln has 3 beds, 3 baths, and approximately 2,324 square feet. The property was built in 1984. The average list price for similar homes for sale is $1,526,835 and the average sales price for similar recently sold homes is $907,167. 26 Hayes Ln is in the 02420 ZIP code in Lexington, MA. The average list price for ZIP code 02420 is $1,007,873.”

Zillow  Zestimates the value at $644,700.

So, which is it? Is this a million-dollar-plus property or is it worth $644,700 (which is modest in Lexington.)

If  buyers use these services as real estate advice, what would they think? There is so much that does not come through on electronic valuation systems which is critical to understanding what a house should sell for. On a street like Hayes Lane, the computers just can’t keep up.

I’m not a computer. This house on Hayes Lane was one of the rare ones where I had “house envy.” (I tend to stay objective and I am rarely aware of emotion when I am showing a house.) However, when I stepped out of the front door of this house and saw woods all around, I had to smile. This house is very close to Lexington Center. It is a great house – the best of both worlds.

Yet down the street are some small and unattractive houses. The street itself is a private way, and it’s in only moderate shape. It’s not such a nice neighborhood in one direction, and a pretty nice one in the other. That’s why Zillow and Trulia couldn’t figure it out.

I could figure it out.

At the time my clients made their offer, the price had just gone down to $819.000. But, it hadn’t gone down quite enough. The house was still overpriced, even though offers were coming in. My client’s offer was well below asking price, but prevailed. Partly, I can toot my horn for doing a good market study and giving a good negotiation presentation. But, sometimes houses find the right owners. This house needed a lover of woods and gardens who also wanted to be close to Lexington Center.  It was the best of both worlds. My client got the right house at the right price.

This makes me happy.