Puffing the Listing

Industry Observer with RETIRED / State License is Inactive Inactive License Oregon

We've read the phrase before "Puffing the Listing," and it's NOT a reference to the listing agent "puffing" on something prior to posting.

In real estate jargon, PUFFING is a loose term meaning:  To "puff up" the property.

While it's not illegal . . . it's very borderline . . . unethical not right!

The reason: CONSUMERS read the puffier, and might not get it!

The question posted on Trulia was about the status of the property, whether it was for sale or pending. For curiosity I looked at the property, forgot all about the question . . . because all I got was PUFF . . . PURE UNADULTERATED PUFF. 

I wondered if the untrained eye of the buyer would be able to discern?


Sale fail - back on market. To be sold as-is no repairs at this price. Inspection report avail. upon request. Adorable 1906 Victorian. Zoned R1, potential to build out (up to 8 units!). Potential to sell driveway easement to neighbor. Long .19ac flat lot and so close to downtown. Total SQFT includes 480 SQFT unfinished basement. Walk to schools, shopping, busline, parks. New in 2007: vinyl windows and storm doors, large deck, and water line from meter. Buyer to perform own due diligence to determine development possibilities.


Let's analyze this on the PUFF 'o METER:

  • "Sale fail - back on market.  To be sold as is no repairs" = The inspection report was a NIGHTMARE, scared the buyer.  They backed out. 
  • "Inspection report avial. upon request."  As if this is a consolation?  I'd also like to know if the inspection report was based on the home inspection -- that THE PREVIOUS BUYER PAID FOR!  If so, it's NOT the listing agent's or the sellers (they did not pay for it).  And, unless they have permission from the previous buyer to use it for their listing, this may be unethical.
  • "ADORABLE Victorian!"  PUFF PUFF PUFF.   I'm sure that's the ORIGINAL beginning of the listing.  The puff . . . Adorable Victoria . . . AFTER your Lowe's credit card is MAXED!
  • Zoned R-1 . . . HUH!!  Puffing the listing to pitch a TEAR DOWN??  If it's so ADORABLE why'd you want to put multi-family zoning (up to 8 units)?  How freaking adorable is this Victorian?
  • Oh, and a "potential" to sell the driveway easement.  Now that's clever.  So when you buy this Adorable Victorian, you won't need to egress/ingress because you'll be developing it out anyway.
  • The TOTAL sq. ft. of this property (in the listing) was noted as 1538 sq. ft.  So, PUFF, PUFF, PUFF minus @400 sq. ft. of UNFINISHED BASEMENT -- and you're looking at a home slightly more than 1,000 sq. ft.

PUFF 'o METER rating:  45%

When representing a buyer, a seasoned agent will be able to READ in-between the lines of a listing.  Unless you're really looking for that ADORABLE FIXER VICTORIAN . . . your agent will be able to discern if this would be a property worth touring.

Posted by



Carla Muss-Jacobs has RETIRED effective May 1, 2018

Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
Principal Broker/Owner ~~ INACTIVE

Carla Muss-Jacobs' retirement became effective May 1, 2018

Direct: 503-810-7192 


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John Alesi
Century 21 Award - Mission Viejo, CA
(Orange County California Real Estate)

I kind of like the "potential to sell easement to neighbor."  Why hasn't neighbor already purchased it?  Maybe he doesn't need it!!!

Oct 05, 2009 12:56 PM #1
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Carla..I like your style..And I like this post..Very clever ..Thank you

Oct 05, 2009 01:08 PM #2
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS, Broker
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana of Real Estate!

This is great Carla - I know we all could post of ton of these puffers and get a good laugh - if it was a laughing matter. Buyer Beware for sure.  BTW on inspection reports - all potential buyers - should get their own report. If they are given  a previous buyers report and rely on that information which may or may not be accurate - and there is a problem....we all know who they'll be coming after if there is an issue after the fact. I put the brakes on this a number of years ago and I'm glad I did.  All buyers should hire their own inspector!!! As the broker we will not take the responsiblity.

Love your fish pic!  It's a puffer all right!!

Oct 05, 2009 01:13 PM #3
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Hi John . . . just a stab at your question:  Maybe the house was divided and there is a flag lot and the owner owns the easment.  The neighbor wants to buy the easement (making their lot bigger) -- just a guess.

Hey Hannah . . . Thanks so much, I appreciate the compliment.   Like the Puffer Fish?  They puff themselves up to look big ;-)

Oct 05, 2009 01:15 PM #4
Nellie Lytvinenko
Homes by Nellie-Working with Buyers & Sellers - Raleigh, NC
919-210-9992, Raleigh - Cary NC Real Estate

excellent!   been up around these lately, and still checking the listings that i lost, they are still on the market....I was honest, and not puffed, but....

Oct 05, 2009 01:24 PM #5
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Hey Anna B. -- Thank you for adding your comments.  Rounds out the blog nicely!!  THANKS!!

Hi Nellie -- Honesty is the BEST POLICY, and if the listings you lost are still on the market, it's NOT YOU, and you can feel good about that!

Oct 05, 2009 01:37 PM #6
Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS
Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA and Copperhill TN - Murphy, NC
Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA

Love you're writing style Carla. It's nice that their creative writing can entertain us.

Oct 05, 2009 03:20 PM #8
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Thank you very much Lee & Carol.  Yes, the "creative writing" is quite entertaining! 

Oct 05, 2009 03:49 PM #9
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass


"Adorable" is always a loaded word. I tell clients that it usually means "small."

I like your puffer fish and puff O meter rating system - very clever.


Oct 06, 2009 12:12 AM #10
Matt Listro
National Credit Fixers - Matt Listro - Vernon, CT
Your Credit Repair Expert

Hi Carla: I had not heard this term before - thank you for the education!


Oct 06, 2009 02:19 AM #11
Nevin Williams
Sierra Pacific Mortgage Raleigh - Raleigh, NC
Raleigh Mortgage Pro

Carla - Once again you provide a valuable lesson with entertainment and attitude.  I love the fact that you cut through the nonsense and tell it like you see it. 

This is exactly what you need in an agent folks!  If you are negotiating hundreds of thousands of dollars for a home you need someone who can cut through the nonsense and protect your interests.  Carla rocks Portland and you should seek her expertise, unless of course you just want a chauffer with keys to other peoples homes instead.

Oct 06, 2009 04:05 AM #12
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Boy you were pretty nice with the puff rating of 45%.  I think it should be higher. A tip off to me was the mention of the basement sq footage like that is ever used.  Adorable - a nice lovely picture word that should probably never be used again right?  Quaint = small.  Cozy = can't put your furniture anywhere!  Puffery.

Oct 06, 2009 07:59 AM #13
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Hi Claudette -- that's a good one "adorable" = small!  You're right ;-)

Hey Nevin . . . thanks for editing! 

HA HA Lyn!  You think I'm a softy!  I toured a "cozy" listing the other day.  You're right, can't put furniture anywhere!



Oct 06, 2009 09:03 AM #14
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