There’s an old saying in real estate, “buyers are liars and sellers are yellers”. I’m not sure there’s any way to quantify it, but I seem to have seen at least much lying on the seller side as I’ve seen on the buying side.
Because I’m in the business, I’m not sure what people are looking for out of their agents. I’m too close to the industry, and because I know and understand it, it sort of conditions you in a lot of ways. Do they want to list with a boy scout? Do they want the most evil person to ever walk the planet? Who knows?
There can be serious repercussions from lying in real estate transactions, especially on the disclosure form. While not a lawyer, “known or should have known” is what the general threshold is when making disclosures. When we as real estate agents encounter a situation where it looks like our seller is lying, it’s important to talk to them about how disclosures can actually be beneficial in the process.
When marketing your home for sale, you may think that you are at a disadvantage when you disclose things about the house. Oddly enough, the more you disclose, the more the buyer feels comfortable in making an offer and eventually getting your house sold. I say this as a Realtor who has often encountered things that the seller was uncomfortable about disclosing.
For example, I once had a house that had a sinkhole in the back yard, way away from the house. Surprisingly, there are a ton of sinkholes in South County due to the way the earth is formed. The seller was uncomfortable with it on the disclosure, and there were buyers who backed off. The buyer that end up getting the house got fair deal and eventually did much more to the house to increase the value.
If you think you can’t sell a home with something negative to disclose, let me tell you about a transaction I know to be true. There’s another house in South County where it was disclosed that there “may be a sinkhole” under the foundation and it sold in about 5 days!
Top real estate agents are usually very good about disclosures. They know that non-disclosure could harm their business and they definitely don’t want that. There’s enough to worry about within the course of selling the home that unforced errors on disclosure aren’t something a real estate agent is going to take lightly.
I think that some sellers think that they are protecting their investment, or helping to sell the house quickly when they don’t tell agents about the issues regarding the house. The truth is that most experienced agents have seen issues enough times that they know what to do and how to respond.
I’m not surprised that I’ve been lied to, and I expect it will happen many more times throughout my career. I will always look out for my clients and advise them on things I see that can help them sell their home for the highest price and with the least amount of headaches.