Dumb, lying realtors

Okay, redundant, I know, but I was visiting a friend in northwestern Connecticut this past weekend who has his house up for sale. It’s a lovely, 1825 structure that, with maybe $500,000 – $1 million in renovations could be the beautiful home it once was but as of now, it’s a wreck. So how does my friend’s real estate agent describe it in its listing? “Lovingly restored to showcase condition”.

What possible good does it do to misrepresent a house on line or to prospective buyers? The briefest glance at the outside will reveal the lie and anyone brave enough to enter will be disappointed and, I’d expect, angry at the deception. So why do it?

My friend is quite ill and I didn’t want to press him on this but really, he should immediately fire his agent and find one with an iq certified to be above 90. If he can find one.


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10 responses to “Dumb, lying realtors

  1. Walt

    Dude –
    You have tasked the impossible. Shoot for 70 and you have a chance.
    Hope this helps!!
    Your Pal,

  2. Peg

    Had a condo listed a few years ago in a building where about 6 were for sale. A woman called to see mine – plus several others in the building. As we went from unit to unit, I would tell her, “well, mine has been refurbished throughout” and “mine has a much larger master.” I had scheduled mine last (of course), and once we got there, she said with wonderment in her voice, “Peggy; you were telling me the complete truth!”

    Lucky she did not pass out on the spot from astonishment.

    I’ve never figured out the sense of over-promising and under-delivering. I want people to be pleased when they arrive; not pissed.

    BTW – she shared with me why she contacted me originally and not any of other Realtors. “I liked your photos the best – and – from the description of the condo, you sounded the smartest, too.”

    Wise, wise woman!!! 🙂

  3. I hate to say this but the profession as a whole deceives. There are lots of great and honest brokers out there but it’s the nature of the business to make your own listing look better than anyone elses. Who among has not seen this:
    1. Photo of the front of the house only because the back hangs on I-95.
    2. Saying it’s a “new listing” when it’s really been on and off the market for years.
    3. Photoshopped lawns and clouds.
    4. A house sits on the market for months, you look at it and contemplate bidding and the agent says “Someone else has just submitted a bid so you better up your offer” (the biggest lie in the book)
    5. No photos of rooms that are in dire need of renovation

    What would you have the copy say for your friends’s home? Needs close to a million in repairs? I don’t think so. We all know that restoration is in the eye of the buyer. Some might want to spend a million to get every Greenwich amenity; others may be happy with keeping the old and only fixing the basics. I don’t happen to think this agent’s crime is dramatically different than all the other webs they weave to sell.

  4. Peg

    EOS – I literally do none of the items you mention.

    As for what Chris’ friend’s Realtor could do, this is quite common for homes that need some help…. “Fabulous home awaiting your (updating, fresh decor, refurbishing, etc.)” We all know what that means… the buyer recognizes that it’s going to take new carpeting, paint, maybe a new kitchen and some bathrooms…. But, as Chris says, the buyer won’t be pissed when he enters. And – those who truly want a place that’s all spiffed up and ready to go won’t have to waste their & their Realtor’s time walking in the front door.

    It is true that we all want to present our listings in the best possible light. I, nevertheless, think that it’s possible to do that without being a flat out liar. And in the long run, it’s better both for one’s reputation and for your seller, too.

    • Peg – how about: “needs new floors, stairs, kitchen, ceilings and support columns, with failed siding and roof, exterior”? That at least would draw buyers interested in restoration and keep the others at bay. In my experience, those are two different classes of buyers and it’s a waste of everyone’s time to blend the two.And the town where this house is located draws NYC types who interested in exactly this type of project, so marketing/appealing to them specifically would be far more productive than sending a (false) broadcast message to any and all buyers.

  5. Anonymous

    Intelligent buyers will ignore the agent descriptions. They add no value above what can be learned from the facts (MLS listing) and photos.

  6. Peg

    Chris; if the hosue needs that much work – then definitely let people know! Some people WANT a house that needs all the renovation. They’d rather get the home at a good price then rehab it as they please. I totally agree it makes no sense to drag those who aren’t interested in a house as it is to see it.

    Once, I had two houses to sell that were next door to one another. A woman had inherited them from her mother, who was a hoarder. (She bought house #2 because she ran out of room for her junk in #1!)

    Both houses were literally filled from floor to ceiling with junk – and were in such horrible condition and smelled so awful, I vowed to measure, put them on the market – then never go back in again unless absolutely necessary. I told the woman that the only way to sell them was to price them way under market – and alert buyers to the condition. She agreed – and we got them sold rather rapidly.

    There are generally markets for almost everything. But – you gotta let people know what the product is.

  7. Peg, that’s why I said there are lots of GOOD brokers, like yourself, who would NOT compromise their standards.

    I agree with Anonymous; astute buyers will ignore those descriptions. And Chris, agree that there are two classes of buyers. Wow, I’m just so agreeable today. Must be the bran I had for breakfast! 🙂

  8. AJ

    Peg already knows what I found out a long time ago: You can deliver the same exact product or service and if you underpromised but overdelivered, you’re a hero, but with that same exact delivery if it was overpromised but underdelivered, you’re a shmuck. Same product, same delivery, but based on what you promised you’re a hero or a shmuck. Better to be a hero: you’ll get more referrals. It’s the same with politicians lowering expectations: the results will be the results, but better to be seen as overperforming rather than underperforming, then a loss can become a win (well, sort of).

  9. Anonymous

    Have you made a specific decision not to discuss Shippan events?