The first question a prospective seller or buyer thinks when they meet a realtor is, “Are they going to lie to me?” People are naturally cautious of real estate agents as some have gained a bad reputation for being unethical, and others tell little white lies to get the deal done.
Sometimes they deliberately omit important information or misrepresent the facts. The actions of a few bad eggs have tainted the reputation of white hat realtors who are straightforward and work above board. Here are some of the lies to watch out for when working with a realtor.
We have another interested party
This is a statement that implies someone else is interested in a property you’re looking at. It’s used to create a sense of urgency to spur you into taking the final step. They play on your fear of losing to the competition or missing out on a great deal. This psychological trick is efficient in some situations but some clients don’t like the feeling of being pressured.
Let the real estate agent know you’re in on their trick by asking if the other party has signed a contract with the vendor. Don’t be afraid to walk away if it doesn’t feel like the best deal for you.
Lies of misrepresentation
- Lies that real estate agents tell to beef up their image. Examples include:
- Advertising as your neighbourhood specialist
- Padding their numbers to look like the best option for clients
- Stretching the truth about the number of years they’ve been in real estate
- Inflating the number of people they’ve worked with
- Claiming they specialize in one area of real estate even though they’ve never closed a sale
Industry experts at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty explain that realtors who misrepresent themselves are exposed to liability when the client discovers the true knowledge of their credentials. This is because agent can’t deliver the experience or insight they claim to have and they could face disciplinary action by the local Bureau of Real Estate.
Lies of omission
Lies told about the property the agent is currently dealing with. Omissions include:
Lying that a dangerous neighbourhood or living conditions are safe when they aren’t
Disclosures of property conditions or material facts adverse to use or real value
Lying about the actual demographic information
Conflict of interest
For instance, when showing a house, the agent might omit the fact that the wiring or parts of the plumbing are old. They won’t tell you about a leaking roof, bad floorboards or other issues with the home. The rule of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is fairly popular in the real estate world.
Selling your home takes longer if your home is too expensive
While this is true, you shouldn’t sell for less than the value of your home. Except if you need to relocate, need the cash or there is some other emergency. Most of the tasks that take a long time are completed by the homeowner, such as fixing up the house, cleaning, painting, upgrading the kitchen and other home improvements. A good real estate agent can get you full price for your house within a decent time frame if the market conditions are perfectly aligned.
It's an up and coming neighbourhood
This is just code for a bad neighbourhood. Sometimes, a diamond-in-the-rough neighbourhood might evolve into a prime location if it’s on the edge of prosperity. They use this term to justify a home that is outside of your price range and desired location, making you believe that it has potential.
Conduct your own research on the neighbourhood. What is the crime rate? Are the streets safe to walk at nights? Do they have good schools and public facilities? Are there any prominent businesses in the area or home remodelling going on? How fast are houses selling in the area? These are all critical questions to answer.
My commission is non-negotiable
This is a common lie some real estate agents tell. Commissions or brokerage fees are negotiable before the contract is signed because the number isn’t fixed. Estate agents adjust their figures based on the client. They might be willing to reduce their commission if they partake in a dual agency or are promised more referrals. Conversely, some real estate agents lie to a client by assuring them that their prices are the lowest in the area, in a bid to secure listings.
Successful Australian real estate moguls Matthew Bateman and Luke Harris shared some of the popular buzzwords real estate agents might use to trick a client.
Ideal investment - A tenant is still in the property and it’s easier to sell that way
Last one in the lot - The development is selling quickly but, in reality, it's the property no one else wants
Cozy apartment – The apartment is really tiny and half of your furniture won’t fit
Three-bedroom delight - It’s actually a two bedroom with a third room that can only fit in a table and chair
Low maintenance garden – If you like a concrete backyard with a potted plant, this is for you
Get in now before the rates go up!
Additional pressure to buy before you’re ready. Even when interest rates are down, the real estate agent shouldn’t push you to buy a house. Their job is to help you find your dream house or sell your home at the best price. Why do you need a low mortgage rate that takes 25 years to pay if the house doesn’t feel like home?
Someone just made an offer for your home
When fishing for new clients, a real estate agent might approach you, telling you that they have a buyer for your home in hopes that you will list it with them. Take their word with a grain of salt. If you’re interested, ask them for an offer or when the prospective buyer wants to see the home. If it’s real, they will provide a positive response straight away.
The main reason why real estate agents lie is to gain more clients. The industry is tough and very competitive and you need a confident, winning personality to excel. An agent who falls into the habit of lying will build their career around this technique, risking a hefty fine, loss of reputation or a prison sentence in the process.