What You Say on Facebook Can and Will Be Used Against You

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

What You Say on Facebook Can and Will Be Used Against You

A few years ago I was representing sellers who were moving up to a new construction home within the area.  We got an offer almost immediately when their home hit the market.  All was well with the world....that was until the appraisal was done.

The value came in $3,000 below the sales price.  Yes, the appraiser seemed unwilling, or unable, to find another $3,000 in improvements to the home.  We dug through his report.  The appraiser noted that the home needed "significant improvement."  What?  They had just put in new appliance, new wood floors and carpets, renovated the bathrooms AND painted the entire home.  The yard was fenced and there was two tiered deck.  Needless to say, we suspected the appraiser would make the correction when the statement of condition was brought to his attention.

We were wrong.  The appraiser stuck to his valuation and it became time for the buyers and sellers to figure out how to proceed.  My sellers wanted to sleep on it, but seemed inclined to letting the $3,000 go and negotiate the price down to appraised value.  That was, before they looked in on the buyers on Facebook.  

Spending the better part of the evening checking up on Mr. Buyer they learned all kinds of things.  First of all, they were living in the basement of his parents.  Second, they learned the wife was due with their second baby soon.  Third, they saw exotic locales posted every week for the husband's golf getaways.  He was in well known, high dollar restaurants and playing well known courses.

When my sellers talked to me the next day the conclusion h
ad been made.  
"We aren't lowering our price."  Mrs. Seller what she had seen.  With their living situation she felt it was unlikely they were paying rent, or if they were, it was more of a gesture.  Mrs. Buyer was probably not in the mood to mess around being eight and a half months pregenant in the middle of summer and living in her in-law's basement.  She would likely force the husband to agree to whatever happened.  And finally, all the costly getaways posted on Facebook by Mr. Buyer really ticked off Mrs. Seller since the buyers were crying poor mouth and that the sellers HAD to reduce the sales price.

What happened as a result of the sellers' refusal to lower the sales price didn't play out well for the buyers.  They got lost in the principal of the thing and stuck to their guns.  In the end, the contract became void.  

The outcome for my sellers?  They got a second buyer the day the first contract went void at the same price with no appraisal problems.  They avoided an additional month of temporary housing while waiting for the new construction.  And they enjoyed watching the summer of ruin from their former buyers play out on Facebook.  

Predictably, Mr. & Mrs. Buyer's home shopping troubles were broadcast to the entire world via Facebook.  They had their second child and the wife was pissed she was still in the basement of her in-laws home.  Mr. Buyer continued to wine and dine himself, posting all of it online.  Eventually, they found another home that was even more expensive than the one they lost out on.  Turns out, they weren't so broke, but we knew that.

What you post on Facebook can and will be used against you in contract negotiations.  Careful what you put out there for everyone to see.


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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Chris Ann

That's a fascinating story, and an excellent example of what can happen if either buyers or sellers, or both, have fun blabbing on Facebook or elsewhere about their transactions or things that could create a potential problem. FB IS a very wide open door!


Aug 15, 2016 09:51 AM #1
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Chris Ann, thank you for sharing this valuable lesson. Social Media can be great when used wisely, not everything belongs on that white screen. I just don't understand the reason or the need to post anything and everything on FB. I often see Realtors posting photos of themselves that scream unprofessional, that's my opinion though.

Aug 15, 2016 09:55 AM #2
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Chris Ann - Someday, everyone is going to realize that everything we do on-line is an open and easily accessible book. Until then, we'll have more cautionary stories like this one. 

Aug 15, 2016 10:09 AM #3
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Very good advice about Facebook, Chris Ann!  While there may be a power in not being able to do better than what you offer on a home.  If you aren't genuine in that, and are demonstrating otherwise, elsewhere, it can come home to bite you.  

I once had a seller experience a similar thing.  They felt sorry for a couple, who "just couldn't do better on an offer."  Alas, as it turned out, there was a common friend to the buyer and the seller, who spilled the beans about the REAL economic condition of the buyer.  My seller felt ripped off, and began digging their heals in, when it came to a long list of repairs wished for that emanated from the Home Inspection report.  

Aug 15, 2016 10:14 AM #4
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

WOW Chis Ann! These buyers really need to grab a clue don't they?

Aug 15, 2016 10:37 AM #5
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I have seen appraisers not want to admit there could have been something they missed in the valuation.

As for Facebook...it has caused many a bragger more money on many fronts.

Aug 15, 2016 11:55 AM #6
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Chris Ann

Facebook is forever . . . . Think before we post . . . . will keep us out of problems.

Great story . . . .

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Aug 15, 2016 12:10 PM #7
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Vision Quest Realty - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

ChrisAnn, yes Facebook posts and comments are there forever. I keep telling my neices and nephews....they will learn one day. This is a great story for people to remember when on social media....don't tell the world your life history/

Aug 15, 2016 01:25 PM #8
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR

Chris Ann Cleland What an interesting story.  This is an important lesson to be careful what you put out there.  I always find it amazing that people will walk away from a house for $ 3,000, if they have the money and plan to live there for a long time.  I'm not a mortgage broker but how much can that amount to monthly over the course of a loan.  Good lesson.

Aug 15, 2016 09:24 PM #9
Alan Gross
PrimeLending, A PlainsCapital Company, Equal Housing Lender - Bethesda, MD
Loan Consultant

Chris Ann Cleland  That's quite a story. In today's world ot technology it's must easier to learn about others. Given the buyers circumstances I'm surprised they didn't pony up and pay the $3,000. Surprised that one didn't end in divorce.

Aug 15, 2016 10:21 PM #10
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Chris Ann, were they ever told about the error of their ways? Or was their agent told? 

I dislike FB for many, many reasons. I don't know why people can't keep their "mouths" shut.... 

Aug 16, 2016 01:56 AM #11
Cody Carmen
Adhi Schools, LLC - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Market Analysis--Educational Content, Adhi Schools

Social media is absoutely dangerous. A lot of people (myself included) have written about its dangers to Realtors, but I enjoyed this article a great deal because it reminds us all that people outside of real estate might not be aware of how impactful their online conduct can be. Agents unfortunately can get stuck holding these clients' hands throughout the process, but this warning is helpful 

Aug 16, 2016 02:37 AM #12
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager


I love this story so much! Good for those sellers! And how awesome they got another buyer immediately. And how awesome they got to watch the misery play out for the nonbuyers. 



Aug 17, 2016 04:56 AM #13
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Your sellers were lucky that they were able to see stuff without being "friends". The buyers must have posted everything "public" which is not smart at all!

Aug 17, 2016 05:19 AM #14
Leona Greenlow-Turner
Keller Williams Realty, Danville - Antioch, CA

Too funny. This is why my personal page is private and I refer everyone to my Facebook business page. I normally add clients to my personal page after we close the transaction for this very reason.

Aug 17, 2016 11:35 AM #15
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Chris Ann -- an excellent example of what can and does "go wrong" in the world of social media.   I have seen some of the most incredible(and ridiculous) things posted -- it prompts the question "what are they thinking?  Of course, we know the answer and thinking is not a part of it.  

Aug 18, 2016 01:06 AM #16
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

That's why I keep my Facebook page predictable and boring...chickens, bees, a few flowers, rinse and repeat.  People can be so reckless with what they post and have no clue what others are thinking about it....or what the consequences can be. 

Aug 19, 2016 07:06 AM #17
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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