Lying, Stretching the Truth, Fibbing ~ It's just a little white lie....

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Access

Lying, Stretching the Truth, Fibbing ~ It's just a little white lie...

photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nirak/2113101947/sizes/z/in/photostream/

IMHO stretching the truth in any way, shape or form is shady and just plain wrong.  If an agent calls me to ask if I have any offers or anything working on one of my listings I am going to be honest and truthful.  If an agent calls to inquire about the condition of my listing, again, I will be completely and totally upfront.  That's just how I think things of this nature should be handled. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to divulge any confidential information (like the fact that they may be selling because they have been relocated to Tibet) that will harm my clients and that is quite frankly, none of anyones business! 

So, back to my point...

A little over a week ago, I was in negotiations with a listing agent on a home my client wanted to purchase.  These negotiations were taking FOREVER and the sellers were not budging from their first counter which was still quite a bit higher that my client was willing to pay.  Once it was obvious that we were at a standstill, my client decided to go out and see some more properties. 

The next day we visited several properties, including some new homes.  She fell in love with one of the new homes and was leaning towards writing a contract on it but wanted to sleep on it and maybe go back a second time the next day.  No problemo, I said!

Later that evening, I received a final counter from house #1, they were willing to go down an additional $950...yep you read that right, $950 (we were still several thousand dollars below that on our end).  I replied and told here that we were going to be seeing a few houses the next day and I would discuss this counter with my client and let her know by end of business. 

The next morning my client and I went to see the new home once again and she decided it was the one for her.  We sat with the sales counselor and signed the contract, she submitted her earnest money and all was right with the world.  In the meantime, I called the agent from house #1 to let her know that my client had decided to go with another home and thank her for everything.  She said, not problem, we just accepted another offer on the home so everything worked out for the best! 

Great!  Sounds like everyone is happy and satisfied.  We are moving along nicely with the purchase process on the new home BUT what about the other home?  Well low and behold, it is STILL ON THE MARKET, was never taken off, listed as Active Option, or pending, nada. 

This can only lead me to believe that the agent was trying to pressure me and my client by telling this little white lie about the alleged accepted offer...

Maybe she wasn't lying, maybe she really did have an accepted offer that was canceled before she had a chance to update the MLS, I'll never know and it really doesn't matter in the long run.  The reason I chose to write about it is that it's not the first time I have come across a suspect statement made by a listing agent on alleged multiple showings and/or offers that were "coming in". 

What do you think?

Comments (25)

Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Jeanna - Oh how I wish we were sitting in the office together right now - I'd be off on one of my patented rants about the things I dislike in our industry.  How many times have I been told that "we have multiple offers" only to have my client walk away and that same home sit there unsold - what happened to all those offers, eh?  I will never tell anyone there is any offers unless...there is another offer!  It's a silly antiquated practice that is (in my opinion) unethical and just plain wrong.  I know some people just see it as sharp negotiating, but I see it as lying, plain and simple.

I love when you get all riled up over things like this!  Go Jeanna!

Nov 19, 2010 01:15 PM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

It could be either of the two scenarios. There have been plenty of times in my years in the business where something changed and the buyer decided not to move forward.

Nov 19, 2010 11:06 PM
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

Jeanna. What I think is we have to abide by our clients wishes (if legal and ethical). The sellers may very well have had another offer they were negotuiating. You just don't know.

I do know that doing this:

"If an agent calls me to ask if I have any offers or anything working on one of my listings I am going to be honest and truthful."

...without your client's permission is a breach of fiduciary and is an ethical violation according to our CoE.

  • Standard of Practice 1-15
    • REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property. Where disclosure is authorized, REALTORS® shall also disclose, if asked, whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another licensee in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker. (Adopted 1/03, Amended 1/09))

    Things aren't always what they seem. Some times being truthful with the other party can harm our clients.

     

    Nov 19, 2010 11:39 PM
    Claudette Millette
    The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
    Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

    Jeanna:

    ...And you will never know for sure. 

    This is one of the oldest problems we have to deal with, that some agents find this an acceptable way to "move" homes. It seems as though there is often another offer that is coming in.  It makes it difficult to know exactly whom to trust.

     

    Nov 20, 2010 12:19 AM
    Cindy Jones
    Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
    Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

    It is annoying and perhaps a pressure tactic but not worth losing any sleep over.  The good news is your client found the home they wanted and you proved your worth as a buyer's agent.

    Nov 20, 2010 12:49 AM
    Jeanna Martinez
    RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX

    Matt - In this particular situation there may or may not have been anything working on their end but if there was not, I just have a problem with telling the other party that there IS something working...who knows?!?

    Bill - That is so true! 

    Bryant - That is very true and thank you for the clarification!  I guess I wasn't very clear, as far as being truthful when asked about an offer working....I would only disclose that we did in fact have something working with my clients' authorization.  My concern is with the flip side, when there is no "other offer" and a listing agent flat out lies about there being one.  Not that this is the case in this particular scenario...I'll never know.  In the big picture, it doesn't really matter one way or the other since my client is very happy with the outcome!

    Claudette - Nope we won't, either way, I'm sure this problem won't go anywhere anytime soon!

     

    Nov 20, 2010 12:54 AM
    Jeanna Martinez
    RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX

    Cindy - Ain't that the truth! :-) Thanks!

    Nov 20, 2010 12:55 AM
    Cindy Marchant
    Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 www.marchantteam.com - Carmel, IN
    "Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

    Jeanna...I probably am guilty just because sometimes I *want* to say we have offers to get someone to write, but I would never use my out loud voice because it isn't true.  I do love it when I can call an agent that isn't *working with me on getting the deal done* to say we have moved on...just like you did here. Good for your buyer that they found House #2 that they love.

    Cindy in Indy

    Nov 20, 2010 01:11 AM
    Ron Parise
    LocateHomes.com - Cape Coral, FL

    There are some questions that when Im asked, ill always lie. for example:  does this dress make me look fat? My answer is "of course not, you look great!"  To answer that honestly I would have to say "no its not the dress, you always look fat, because you are fat" Or when I lose a big deal and someone sees me crying while hiding under my desk, they might ask; "Are you OK?" my answer will  be "Yes, I just dropped something under here."  Or if I trip stepping off a curb, I might say "I meant to do that"

    Each of these little white lies is done to preserve my dignity or someone else's and I dont see any problem with them. I think the same sort of lies are used all the time in our business. I suspect the agent you were working with in your story needed something polite to say to preserve her dignity,and to let you know her client was still open to further negotiation.  Rather than telling the truth which might be..."I cant believe you are walking away from this great house over a few thousand dollars" Or "you putz!, why are you walking away from this negotiation, my client was just getting started. She said she had other offers

    Remember she has to go back to her client to let them know another buyer got away. Give her a break, a little white lie never hurt anyone

     

     

    Nov 20, 2010 01:43 AM
    Michael Setunsky
    Woodbridge, VA
    Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

    Jeanna was it so much a fib or a negotiation tactic to get your buyer to reconsider and accept the counter? I don't condone fibbing, but maybe the agent was trying to make a last ditch effort to save the deal.

    Nov 20, 2010 01:44 AM
    Richie Alan Naggar
    people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
    agent & author

    I like being creative and I recognize that some times we have to operate out of the conventional Real Estate box. This is especially true when the stakes are high, fast and hard. I always try to not spend to much time at the fine line of things less we fall.....I am reminded that the white lie eventually leads to the father of all lies...and you don't want meet this person.....

    Nov 20, 2010 02:15 AM
    Frank Castaldini
    Compass - San Francisco, CA
    Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco

    Unless I knew someone was lying I would not put too much energy into it.  Sounds like your client did well and the other agent worked hard to help it along, although the seller was not in agreement with your client.  All parties move on.

    Nov 20, 2010 03:00 AM
    Donald Tepper
    Long and Foster - Fairfax, VA
    DC area investor helping heirs of inherited homes

    I guess I'm dense. I don't get it.

    After tough negotiations, your clients, the buyers, saw a house they liked more. They made an offer on it. You call the listing agent for the first home to inform her that your clients had moved on. That's fine.

    The listing agent cordially responds that that's OK because the sellers had accepted another offer.

    Well, from a negotiating standpoint, the listing agent had lost all the tools in her toolbox. Negotiations were over. Your clients had moved on. If the listing agent had been trying to get your clients to reconsider--to somehow get them back--what could she have said? Maybe: "Hey, look, have your buyers submit another offer at a price that works for them. I think the sellers' response might please your buyers." Maybe: "If that other offer doesn't work out, I hope you'll still keep us in mind."

    I don't think a response of "That's OK. My sellers have accepted another offer." would provide any impetus for your buyers to continue pursuing that first home. A line like: "We have other offers coming in" while negotiations were still active might have been effective. But not after your buyers had moved on.

    I'm guessing that Ron (#14) is right--that it was a face-saving technique. Either that, or there was an accepted offer somewhere.

    But as a negotiating tactic when there are no more negotiations? Doesn't make sense to me.

    Nov 20, 2010 03:11 AM
    Sun City Grand Homes Surprise AZ Real Estate Leolinda Bowers Designated Broker Leolinda Realty
    Leolinda Realty - Surprise, AZ
    Sun City Grand in Surprise Arizona

    In this market I am receiving multiple offers since it is time of year where people come to purchase for the spring.  Whenever I have multiple offers, I inform in writing all agents that there are multiple offers.  When negotiations are complete all agents are notified the disposition of the property and it is placed in pending on MLS.

    Unfortunately, not all agents behave in the same manner.  You and I have both experienced the same.  The agent says that there is an accepted contract yet the status is not changed in MLS.  Although it gets may get anyone hesitant in conducting business with the deceitful agent,  the agents dishonest acts will eventually become known.  Just stay positive knowing that your client purchased the best home that best fits his/her needs. 

    and make your day today a Grand day!

    Nov 20, 2010 03:16 AM
    Gary Woltal
    Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
    Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

    Jeanna, with suspect statements, who knows? Just let it go.... doesn't even matter other than you are encountering it more than one time, that is not good for our industry.

    Nov 20, 2010 03:42 AM
    Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
    RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

    As annoying as it might be, who cares?  The listing agent probably was trying to save face, and in this business it's just a pissing contest at times.  Was it a lie?  Hard to know.  But again, who cares.  It didn't affect your client at all.  Lies are harmful when they affect someone.  In this case, no one was affected, so who cares?

    Nov 20, 2010 04:50 AM
    Brent Wells
    The LivingWell Team - Prosper, TX
    Real Estate Broker serving all of North DFW

    Jeanna,

    Never assume, it was probably something simple and honest. I do agree there is never a reason to lie or mislead. Its far better to just end the conversation. A lie will always come back to haunt you.

    -Brent

    Nov 20, 2010 05:11 AM
    Shirley Parks
    Sands Realty 210-414-0966 - San Antonio, TX
    Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate

    Hi Jeanna, I've noticed that some agents take a very long time to update their listings.  I hate that.

    Nov 20, 2010 07:30 AM
    Bryant Tutas
    Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
    Selling Florida one home at a time

    Hi Jeanna. Very good response back at me!! I knew yiou meant that. I was just using your article as an opportunity to point out to others that we have to be careful when it comes to divulging any info. The deal always belongs to our buyers and sellers. We are just the messengers.

    I hope my comment didn't come off as me being a meany!! My wife says I do that way too often.  

    Nov 20, 2010 11:49 AM
    Claude Labbe
    RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
    Realty for Your Busy Life

    The tactic of "another offer" coming in can also backfire.  If the buyer isn't wiling to pay full asking, or more, being advised of another offer can easily lead to visiions of a higher sales price than the buyer is comfortable with.  And slam, offer is written on another home instead.

    Nov 20, 2010 04:53 PM