Full disclosure, I wrote this piece for IL as the Top 5 Lies Realtors Tell and it was such a hit, I’m bringing it back for an encore performance. But why stop at five? Realtors are such big liars, why not share more?! *wink*
Full disclosure, part Deux: I may be the Amur Leopard of the profession because I don’t lie and I’m a Realtor. So as you’re reading keep this in mind. Thanks!
When I first became a real estate agent, I was shocked to find out that public perception of real estate agents was low. But not just “low”… like only a few spots up from used car salesman.
This Harris Poll shows real estate agents/brokers at, or near, the bottom of every occupation tested. Ouch!
I had a hard time believing this. Our family agent, a wonderful man, had a servant’s heart and was incredibly knowledgeable and hard working.
So you mean, all agents weren’t like our Realtor Jim?
Apparently not, my friends. So it falls on us to call out the bad behavior coming from some in our profession.
Top 7 Lies Realtors Tell
These lies aren’t in any particular order but they represent the most common ones I’ve heard during the past decade.
1. “You’ve got to see this home, it’s a gem!”
puff·er·y: (noun) undue or exaggerated praise.
I think we all saw this one coming. When an agent says, “This home is absolutely beautiful!” what’s the first thing you think? “Uh-huh, sure it is.”
It’s a challenging thing to promote your client’s home in the best possible light while not crossing the line and saying things that aren’t true. No one is going to want to hear you say:
“It’s a mildly attractive rambler with a decent sized family room and almost no updates in the kitchen. Schedule your showing today!”
What can an agent do?
A) Highlight the home’s best features
B) Stretch the truth to unbelievable lengths, or
C) Make a claim that warrants legal reprimands.
(The correct answer is A. Answer C will help you lose your license.)
Recommendation: Today’s home buyers are better equipped to combat this lie because of all the online photos. Also, I don’t think it’s out of line for other real estate professionals to kindly correct outrageous puffery when they find it.
2. “Business is great!”
This might fall into the category of a little white lie, in that, it’s not really hurting anyone. But if you ask 100 real estate agents, “How’s business?” You’ll get back a near unanimous response of, “Business is great!”
Not everyone can be doing great, right? Right.
The most recent research I completed on real estate agent salaries here in Louisville showed that just 10% of all agents made nearly half of all the revenue. Conversely, the other half is divided up among the remaining 90% of Realtors.
Recommendation: Treat it like you would any time you ask someone, “How are you?” and they respond back with, “Fine.” It’s the same kinda thing.
3. “I actually have a buyer client that would be interested in your home. You should list with me!”
There are a million-and-one ways to bend words in order to take advantage of people. We’ve all heard them.
Here’s one that I don’t think, in the entire history of real estate, has ever been true.
Recommendation: If you are interviewing listing agents and one brings this lie out, reply quickly with, “Oh great! What’s his name?” If you experience even the slightest pause, that is the agent’s brain on speed-dial, trying to pull up any name without stammering.
4. “I’ve done the work and your home is worth $XXX,XXX.”
This lie is perhaps the most challenging one on our list. The reason is that there is no verifiable value to put on a house. Market value can actually be flexible.
In fact, if you hire two appraisers on the same day, it’s not unheard of for them to come back with values as far as 10% apart.
(True story: I received appraisals just two years apart on my personal home. The second claimed my house lost 11.2% of its value while I knew the market was actually moving higher. The truth is both appraisals were off by a good amount.)
All this to say, pricing a home can be a challenge. But that doesn’t stop some Realtors from lying and telling a prospective client that their home is worth more than it truly is, just to get the listing.
From Article 12 from the Realtor’s Code of Ethics:
REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.
Funny how this might be “forgotten” by some when there is the potential to earn some cash.
Recommendation: The best valuations come from a trustworthy Louisville Realtor or impartial appraiser using a manually adjusted competitive market analysis (CMA). Ask to see their work!
5. “There’s a great deal of interest in this property!”
Did you notice that exclamation point? Studies have shown that when someone is lying, they are more likely to state it in a bold way.
Of course, not all real estate agent lies are told to clients. Here’s one that Realtors tell to other Realtors.
The hope is that the Realtor being lied to will share this fiction with their clients to pique their interest. The thought might be, “If other people want to buy this house, it must really be great.”
Agents telling this first lie might have an even greater lie on deck: “We have an offer coming, so you tell your clients to hurry!” This has happened to me… sadly, more than once.
Tsk tsk. If only there was an instant replay that we could all refer to, in order to document which agents lie and how often.
Recommendation: Be very skeptical of this one unless another real estate professional can confirm the claim.
6. “It’s been really wonderful working with you.”
Anyone in sales knows that the customer is always right. The next axiom in line is, “Even the worst customers are always right.”
If you heard your Realtor say this to you, chances are he was being sincere. But if you have a track record of being a demanding and sometimes unreasonable person, then your agent was probably lying if they said it was “so much fun helping you buy your home.”
Recommendation: Treat others how you’d like to be treated. I think I remember reading this somewhere before.
7. “It’s a great time to buy a house!”
Without transactions, agents have zero earning potential. The market somewhat self-regulates but there is an inherent push for more.
The truth is that selling your current home and buying your next home are two separate deals that are likely at opposite ends of the market see-saw. So, if it is truly a great time to be selling, odds are it’s not the best time to buying… and vice versa.
But again, an honest agent will shoot straight with you and support his opinion with facts and statistics.
Recommendation: Also take into consideration whether you’re moving from a lower-priced home into a higher one. Weigh that with what the market is doing. Each deal should be evaluated on its own merit. Then, take both outcomes and combine them.
I hope this piece will lead to a more enlightened marketplace where agents, buyers, and sellers can all interact with more integrity. At least, until they put truth serum in our municipal water source.