The best real estate agent in the city of...

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Real estate agents make all sorts of claims about their listings and about their services.

Some of those claims - like saying that  your waterfront listing has the finest beach or the most beautiful view on the lake - are classified as puffery and are largely ignored by the general public. (That's one reason why adding those statements to your property descriptions is a waste of time and space.)

Everyone knows they're a matter of opinion and not a statement of fact. No one is going to simply take your word for it and come back to sue you later if they see a beach or a view they like better.

You must not, however, stray from the narrowly defined area of puffery into misrepresentation, because that CAN cost you a great deal of time, trouble, and money, even if potential buyers can see that it’s not true. (Don't say it has the most beautiful water view if it has no water view.)

Claims about you and your service are a different matter.

When it comes to describing yourself, you have to be more careful.

Saying you’re the agent with trophy thinks he's the best“best” could be meant as puffery, but a client, a court, or a REALTOR’S® association might see it as an implication beyond your intentions.

If you’re an agent it might mean you’re claiming to be an absolute expert in all things real estate, so clients can safely rely on any statements you make or advice you give. They might take it to mean you’re an expert negotiator, or that you absolutely KNOW the price at which a home will sell. It would be impossible to guess what “best” might mean to someone.

If you’re a home inspector or an appraiser, saying you’re the best might be taken as a claim that you can’t make a mistake.

For some of us, like me, announcing that you’re the best is also a put-off.

I’ve been working on putting together a new project – a set of audios with agents and others in the real estate industry who are authorities – perhaps even experts - in various niches. A few days ago I came across someone who is a real estate teacher, so went to his website to check him out. The first thing I saw: “I am the best real estate instructor.” His website went on to say that his was the best real estate school in the U.S.

Did I contact him to ask if he’d be interested in participating in my project? No. Not a chance. I don’t even want to talk to someone that arrogant, let alone interview him for an audio. As for hiring someone like that - no.

Saying you’re an expert is also risky. What if someone takes your advice and is harmed by it?

We’ve all heard of agents claiming to be neighborhood or hometown experts when they’re not. Those agents are playing with fire.

If a potential buyer asks them a question about school district boundaries, taxation, cost of utilities, etc. and they can’t answer, it shows they aren’t the experts they said they were. That simply brands them as a fraud.

The real danger comes if they give an answer – but the answer is incorrect and their clients proceed thinking it’s the truth. If they rely on the information and are harmed by it, a certain percentage of them will sue.

Remember that the Realtor® Code of Ethics states: REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.”

“Specialist” is another danger word. An agent might be tempted to say that they specialize in a specific niche, even if they’ve just begun to focus on marketing to that niche. It sounds reasonable enough.

But… the word specialist means a bit more. Here’s the definition, as per Merriam-Webster: “A person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study, etc.”

In other words, the only safe way to use that word is to wait until you have specialized knowledge to impart. If you really do have that knowledge and skill, then go ahead. If you’re not there yet, choose a different word.

So what words could you use?”

I’m not an attorney, nor do I work for a Real Estate Association anywhere, so I could be wrong, but my guess is that it would be safe to say you’re accomplished or experienced  (if its true), or that you are the friendliest agent in town - or have the best smile.

Beyond something like that, it’s best to stick with facts that can be verified. If you say you’re in the top 1% of all agents in your MLS; if you say you sold more homes than any of your competitors; if you quote high list to sell ratios; or If you say you have six certifications, you’d better be able to prove it.

About my new project...

If you're focused on a niche and have advice you'd be willing to share with other agents, maybe you'd be interested in participating. If so, email me and I'll share my plans.


Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at


This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Real Estate Rookie
Blogs Happen...
WeBlog Anything (almost)!
Vets serving Vet's real estate needs
real estate marketing
real estate self promotion

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

Thanks for sharing, Marte Cliff. I generally find words ending in "...est" are put offs and untrue, just like 'always' and 'never'. Definitely good to stay away from them.

Thanks for sharing,

Apr 20, 2018 08:00 PM #3
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Actions speak louder than your job right and others can talk about it for you! 

Really good Post! Thank you!

Apr 21, 2018 12:03 AM #4
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

I agree. When our clients put recommendations online that say we are the best at something, that's fine. If WE say it, it's not in our best interest.

Apr 21, 2018 04:10 AM #5
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Great advice, Marte. You're so right... what does "best" really mean. I like to focus on saying I've "served" xyz community or certain types of clients for 20+ years. I post testimonials from my clients... it's their words, not mine.

Apr 21, 2018 04:56 AM #6
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Carol Williams ~ my suggestion for your next Second Chance Saturday post. Something all agents should think about.

Apr 21, 2018 04:56 AM #7
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great advice.

I have heard it said that an expert is a person from out of town.

People see through our claims and it works against us.

Thanks for a great post.

Apr 21, 2018 05:56 AM #8
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I tend to represnt myself as a solid entry into the Real Estate word....

Apr 21, 2018 05:59 AM #9
Ron Barnes
Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties - Jasper, GA
"Most agents claim they're #1 - I THINK YOU'RE #1!

My  line is "A lot of agents claim they're #1 ... I think you're #1!"

Apr 21, 2018 06:09 AM #10
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Marte, there are a lot of number 1's in most markets. Ha. One of my other pet peeves - those contests where you vote for the Favorite Agent in a certain town - it's merely a contest to see how many people you can get to vote for you. Really not reflective of the real situation and most people know it. D 

Apr 21, 2018 07:32 AM #11
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

I know this one only too well, Marte, and I do prove it day after day:

If you say you’re in the top 1% of all agents in your MLS; if you say you sold more homes than any of your competitors; if you quote high list to sell ratios; or If you say you have six certifications, you’d better be able to prove it.

Apr 21, 2018 09:41 AM #12
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Which of the 50 #1 agents should the consumer hire?? :)

Personally, I feel comfortable that I know more about Greater Cincinnati patio homes than any other agent in my market, but proving it might be tough.  Perhaps there's another agent that knows as much or more, but chooses not to share it online.  What I can prove is I do a Google search, I may find the occasional agent who posts about a specific patio home community, but no evidence of any other agent covering the breadth that I do.  But even then, I may not be the "best" agent for a particular buyer because their expectations and mine may not mesh.  Bill

Apr 21, 2018 10:04 AM #13
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good afternoon Marte Cliff ,

Excellent points! So many agents say they are #1 or an agent from out of the area has an rider that says "Neighborhood Expert!" Barbara Todaro gave me the best title "The most frequently hired Realtor® in Canyon Creek" I can prove it by statistics and it is believable (especially when you see more of my signs in the community than any other agent).

Apr 21, 2018 10:24 AM #14
Paul McFadden
Paratex - Seattle, WA
Pest Control, Seattle, WA.

Good advice. I'm not sure anyone should toot their horn much. Let the results and self confidence speak for itself

Apr 21, 2018 05:47 PM #15
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I agree. I wouldn't choose a professional who claims to be the best. I prefer someone who is straight forward and ready to prove themselves through their actions.

Apr 22, 2018 04:17 AM #16
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Fantastic post and I have to say, the thing about the certifications is something that has annoyed me for years too, Marte. Those of us who have them (especially the CRS) find it most frustrating to see others market themselves as CRS agents when they aren't and there is no history of them being one either. We worked especially hard for the designation and to falsly advertise that you are one, should be heavily penalized. Unfortunately, the designation police don't go after them unless the designees squeal...and loudly!

I hope you have a fantastic week ahead, Marte!

Apr 22, 2018 07:05 PM #17
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte

There are a lot of slippery slopes noted in your post, but it's the sort of thing we see pretty often in listings, in agent marketing and so on. I suspect most of this puffery...and worse...does NOT have the intended effect.


Apr 23, 2018 08:43 AM #18
James Grant
Asheville, NC

Hello Marte, 

I agree with you. "Honesty is the best policy" and whatever you do it will reflect on you. I also believe that being true to yourself always brings good luck in the future.

Apr 26, 2018 12:57 PM #20
Diane Christner
Bright Realty - Sarasota, FL

Great post.  We have a lot of "Neighborhood Specialists" in my area.  I've noticed that some agents claim to be neighborhood specialists wherever they obtain a new listing, whether they've ever listed in that particular neighborhood before or not.   To me, this comes across to buyers as  disingenuous.

May 02, 2018 07:49 PM #21
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Diane Christner - I agree. If you claim to be a neighborhood specialist you'd better be able to answer any question a buyer - or a seller- asks. Fortunately for the real specialists, that kind of knowledge isn't gained over night.

I see you're new here, so welcome to Active Rain!

May 02, 2018 08:43 PM #22
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Marte,

Most clients really only care about what you can do for them. All the tinsel on your wall about how great you are is only marginally interesting.

Jul 31, 2018 08:44 PM #23
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?