Are Listing Agents Nothing More than Overpaid Data Entry

Real Estate Agent with 774.289.5521

The listing says, "buyer to verify all information", "buyer to do Title V" (typically done by seller in my market), "buyer to do smoke certificates" (the seller's responsibility according to Massachusetts state law).


Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware, right?

This post was prompted by an issue that was omitted from a listing but came up at home inspection (did she really think we wouldn't notice?). Right now my buyer is feeling like Real Estate agents are just like used car salesmen. Franky, so am I.

My buyer may be out a lot of time and money because the listing agent put in her listing "Seller nor agent make any representations of any kind, buyer due diligence" instead of listing that there may be a potential problem that could cost my buyer $4000-8000 if he decides to purchase this property.

Of course she denies knowing about the problem. But, I think she didn't act surprised when I told her. Instead, she told me to tell my buyer, "don't tell anyone" about the issue that came up. Seriously!?!

Maybe my buyer would have passed up this listing if he knew there may be a potential problem. Maybe not. He wasn't given that option. Ok, you can say that getting buyers through the door is the listing agent's job - but if she tricks people into the door, they aren't good buyers for that property, wouldn't you think?

I will go to the town hall and do my due dilligence so my buyer can decide if they want to move forward with the purchase or not.

In the future, am I supposed to educate my buyers by telling them to assume that all information in a listing sheet is wrong?

What does a listing agent get paid for, other than putting the listing into MLS and then adding a ton of disclaimers that puts all the responsibility onto the buyer's agent?



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Donald Reich
Prudential Centennial - New Rochelle, NY

There are a lot of dumb agents out there who make mistakes. There are also a lot of dishonest out there. Then there are agents who are both dishonest AND dumb!

Nov 03, 2011 04:14 PM #24
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Yes and we wonder why the public thinks we are pond scum????


Nov 03, 2011 04:23 PM #25
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

When a property has more than enough of those CYA phrases, it is time to move on to another property, unless you are a contractor and have a lot of help.

Nov 03, 2011 05:55 PM #26
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

In SD REOs are not required to fill out a property disclosure due to the fact that they have not occupied the property. So in this state you have to do all of the due diligence anyway! What fun! 

Nov 03, 2011 06:11 PM #27
Steve Warrene
Your Town Realty - Lower Burrell, PA
Pittsburgh Real Estate Investment Specialists

Crystal, here in the Pittsburgh PA area no listing agent of a foreclosure will put anything in the listing about the property that needs to be fixed.  Some will when there is a safety issue like a big hole in the floor at entrance, etc, but most don't even to that.  The first property I sold when I got my license was a foreclosure, and the kitchen island was ripped out of the floor and there was a hole about 6ft x 6ft in the kitchen where we could have fell through.  I think the listing agent must have not seen it haha.  I guess less is more in those situations.  Less disclosures = more people going to see the property.

Nov 03, 2011 10:28 PM #28
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

There is an obligation to disclose material facts. There is not an ability to dance around them with linguistics.

Nov 03, 2011 10:41 PM #29
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
Keller Williams 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce - Short Sale

  Buying a house or anything else....still carries a Buyer beware warning...a heads up....we know especially now, we are in an "anything can/has/will happen" sort of atmosphere.

Nov 03, 2011 10:55 PM #30
Beverly Jo Cole
Southern Cross Real Estate, Inc. - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Interesting to see that as a listing agent, I am only a "data entry" tech! I suppose that makes buyer agents all nothing more than chauffeurs???????  I must disagree with your article. Here in Florida, we must put disclaimers on all of our listings. Although we may have suspicions, we can only disclose facts that we are actually aware of. In the case of REO properties, it is obvious that the Seller/bank has never resided in the property, therefore, there is no occupant to ask true Seller disclosure questions of... ie: "Have you had any plumbing problems in the past? If yes, please explain" As the 'data entry' tech, should I track down the previous foreclosed on Seller who of course will be anxious to help the bank by filling out the form for them gratis...? :/    In our litigious society, we cannot assume any condition of property, no matter who the seller is. That is what inspections are for. Once an issue comes to light as per inspection, I can now disclose it. Until then, I will stick with "information deemed reliable but not guaranteed"! If anyone doesn't like that, please move on and show someone Else's listing with no 'heads up' language on the brochure and perhaps not to bother with REO properties even though they are generally the best deals in town.

Nov 03, 2011 11:46 PM #31
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson - Hudson Valley Homes for Sale

As in all professions there are those that work, and those that pretend to work. Not all people are ethical or do anything more than what they can get away with.

In NY State we are required by law to give the sellers at the listing appointment a disclosure form that they are to give to their attorney. We are told NOT to advise them what they should do. It is our responsibility to make sure they give it to their attorey for legal advice as to what they do with it. It is required to be filled out by law, and if they don't do it, the buyer gets $500.00 credit at closing. This is the penalty for the seller for not filling out the form. With all the litigation going on out there, a good number never fill out this form. Its way too risky for the seller in terms of lawsuits after closing. The $500 penalty is certainly worth not filling out a form that can hurt you down the road. With that said, we do get information on things in the home from the seller, but it is still the reason we get a home inspection for the buyers. We are not engineers to be able to see deficiencies that could be costly. Our job is to find the proper source to give our buyers the best info to make their own decisions. 

Nov 04, 2011 12:52 AM #32
S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL
United Realty Group, Inc. - Davie, FL
Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist

I didn't have time to read all the comments so I'm not sure if someone mentioned this already..

I would check the MLS for this listing agent's other listings to see if this is the only listing in which she included the disclaimer "Seller nor agent make any representations of any kind, buyer due diligence" (or similar).  If you find out this was the only instance, then it's clear that she knew and didn't disclose.  Not good for her should this end up in court or other hearing.

Nov 04, 2011 01:43 AM #33
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Crystal, could be the listing agent was following the wishes of the seller. Except for known adverse material facts which must be disclosed, the seller can ask for anything.

Nov 04, 2011 02:03 AM #34
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

GA is a full disclosure state, and I would probably suggest that my buyer talk to a lawyer about recovering actual damages.

Nov 04, 2011 02:05 AM #35
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

Crystal all listing agents are not like this, yes there are a few , heck i have to deal with a couple in my area. Here in NH we have a Sellers property information sheet that requires teh seller to disclose anything they know about the property. If it is an owner occupied property, this disclosre takes care of alot of problems you write about.  the difference even for me, is when i list bank owne dhomes, i do not know anything about that house, i dont have records and what i know i learn from seeing with my own eyes and then can disclose what i have seen. So please do not group all listing agents in one group. I am a listing agent and pride myself on working harder, longer and smarter on my listings to bring about a sale. I enjoy working with buyer agents and it often shows as they come back over and over with new buyer n new listings becuase they did getting treated fair and with respect.

Nov 04, 2011 02:12 AM #36
Monica Hill
RE/Max Associates - Wilmington, DE
the REALTOR to help you discover Delaware

Bank-owned properties... estates... there are several instances where the Seller hasn't lived in the property so they can't tell you about defects. It falls on the shoulders of the Buyer's Agent to adquately inform their client about their rights. Listing Agents really do need to review disclosure with their Sellers per the regulations in your area. Even with estate listings, I tell my Sellers to disclose what they know. They might not have lived in Mom and Dad's house for a long time but if they came back and helped Mom get the plumbing fixed, then disclose that. 

The "don't tell" part is alarming. If your Buyer discovers a defect and it causes the transaction to fall apart, the Seller will be notified in the course of voiding the contract and will then need to disclose. I can't imagine a state in the country where they'd be exempt from telling what they know once they know it.

Sounds like you're doing a good job in helping them follow up with the town hall. Be careful though if you're the one doing the due diligence. Make sure you keep your Buyer in the loop and ask them if they have any additional questions they need answered. If in doubt, check with their Real Estate attorney. You don't want the Buyer to make a decision based on information you've gathered that might not have included all the details the Buyer wanted.

Nov 04, 2011 05:04 AM #37
Chuck Carstensen
RE/MAX Results - Elk River, MN
Minnesota Real Estate Expert

The agent said, Dont tell anyone about the problem."  That sort of says it all right there.  Probably best to move on, but they need to dsclose if they know.

Nov 04, 2011 06:59 AM #38
Sheri S
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage - Folsom, CA

HA! This is almost my number 1 gripe!  No hands on, horrible customer service, out of touch with what is really going on.. I wonder how these agents will fare when the market get more normal??

Nov 04, 2011 07:25 AM #39
Jackie Hawley
Coldwell Banker Professionals - Oxford, MI
Southeast Michigan Real Estate

If it wasn't visible to you and your buyer when you looked at the house (before making the offer) then why would you think the listing agent knew about the problem? And I don't mean by the tone of her voice. REO's are exempt from disclosures and it is YOUR job as a buyer's agent to let you buyer know there may be unexpected problems.

Nov 04, 2011 08:30 AM #40
Kevin Vitali
EXIT Realty- Massachusetts Short Sales & Residential Sales - Tewksbury, MA
Helping Massachusetts Home Buyers and Home Sellers

Crystal- I've learned over the years, deal with the issue up front.  I tell my sellers to give me the ugly because it will come up.... let get the issue repaired or price the house accordingly.  A house that has been on the makret, goes underagreement and comes back on becuase of inspection issues will ultimately sell for less than just dealing with the issue up front.

Nov 04, 2011 09:09 AM #41
Lydie Ouellet Dickinson
Realty Executives Tri County, Bellingham MA - Bellingham, MA

Hey Crystal, great post and sad situation. How are things going for you? Especially with this story?

Nov 10, 2011 07:31 AM #42
Lynn B. Friedman
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ... - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Crystal,

You obviously are a woman who tells it like it is! Looking forward to reading moreof your thoughts in the future.

Some folks got up in arms over your comments - you certainly stirred them up!! I liked two comments especially -

"As a listing Broker, it's all about risk reduction, of course. As a buyers agent, I just assume that I need to do the due diligence as part of my job, and don't worry about the listing agent, as I can't control that."


"Yikes, don't throw all listing agents under the bus here.  REOs never disclose as they have not lived in the property.   Why/how would a listing agent know anything more than her bank/seller who has never lived there?  Now, the agent asking you to not "tell"  - that is super shady."

Have a happy day -

Feb 04, 2012 01:56 PM #43
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Crystal Pina

Remax Professional Associates
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