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By Leanne Spring
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Do real estate agents lie about offers?

Are real estate agents hon­est, do they bend the truth or are they just try­ing to do the job without being sued?

Have you ever  won­dered why real estate agents have con­sist­ently had a bad repu­ta­tion?

Female Real Estate Agent Offer Home Ownership And Life Insurance To Young Couple.

In my exper­i­ence of work­ing with many dif­fer­ent real estate agen­ts, I have come across the good the bad and the ugly.

But let's start the discussion with the fact that they are not just money-hungry vul­tures look­ing for their next vic­tim to sink their claws into, which is sometimes what the media would like people to think.

Now I'm not against the media as they are just look­ing for another story that gen­er­ates the public’s interest.

But in general, estate agents are reg­u­lar people work­ing a job, doing their best to be the best in a very com­pet­it­ive industry.

And it is nor­mally that one rogue real estate agent that quickly gets caught out by the ATO, or fair-trading because of the impossible to cover up paper trail.

I will admit most agents don’t have degrees and haven’t always been suc­cess­ful.

They  have failed at many things but what they do know are real estate and people.

Some of the best real estate agents were never the best at school but found an avenue by which they could suc­ceed.

It is a heavily regulated industry

I've found most agents are just try­ing to do their job, to the best of their abil­ity without being sued.

Today because of these rogue real estate agents, the industry is heav­ily reg­u­lated and agents can be audited without a moment’s notice.

In fact because of the new types of law­yers out there will­ing to work on a “no win no fee” basis, many real estate agents are even more para­noid about say­ing and doing the wrong thing by anyone.

Accord­ing to the law, real estate agents  are in a pos­i­tion of a “high degree of trust” (which is funny because they have been voted one of the least trus­ted pro­fes­sions).

This is why when a real estate agent commits a crim­inal offence they are judged more harshly than the aver­age per­son, and it is called a “breach of trust”.

The truth about real estate agents lying

When agents undertake train­ing to become a real estate agent they are told about all the laws they can be pun­ished by and believe me there are a lot of them!

So if a real estate agent delib­er­ately or reck­lessly lies for fin­an­cial gain they are play­ing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the author­it­ies that will even­tu­ally catch up with them.

Most agents just want to do the best job pos­sible for buy­ers, sellers, land­lords, and ten­ants.

Are agents allowed to lie about having mul­tiple offers?

I know this is a com­mon concern for buy­ers.

I can under­stand that angry and wor­ry­ing thoughts, try­ing to find out if the real estate agent is lying about this.

On top of that, I do know of the heated dis­cus­sions that hap­pen back at home, on whether you should make a higher offer for that dream property.

I do know of dodgy real estate agents that when des­per­ate to sell a prop­erty that will lie about hav­ing other offers on the prop­erty.

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Smarter agents would say “we have mul­tiple inter­ested buy­ers” which is not illegal to say.

Agents are bound by a strict code of eth­ics and law that is taken very ser­i­ously by Fair Trading.

8 tricks real estate agents play

As a buyer's agent I’ve dealt with my fair share of real estate agents, and I've found most of them follow a very professional code of conduct, however, a few agents can and do adopt certain ways of doing things and speaking with potential buyers to push a teetering sale across the line.

I’ve heard pretty much all of it by now.

And in today's rising property market, many buyers are suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out) – being scared the market is running away from them.

They feel they must get into the market making them more likely to be swayed by the persuasive arguments of selling agents.

So to help you out when next negotiating a property purchase, here are 8 ‘little white lies’ real estate agents might tell you…and what they really mean.

1. We have another interested party

Essentially they’re implying another buyer is waiting to pounce if you take too long to make your move, thereby playing on your fear of ‘losing out’ to ‘the competition’.

This creates a sense of urgency and can be a very effective psychological play in tipping a hesitant purchaser across the line.

While you shouldn’t necessarily dismiss the possibility that someone else is nipping at your heels, never feel pressured into a purchase because you might not be the victor in what’s possibly a fictitious battle.

A good way to determine if the agent’s story is legitimate is to ask questions like, ‘Has a signed contract been presented to the vendor?’

Remember that in real estate, there’s always another deal to be done so don’t be afraid to walk away.

2. We’ve had an offer of…

This is much the same as the above tactic, in that it can persuade a reluctant buyer to make an actual offer.

But how do you know if you’re being played?

Once again, asking if the other offer is in the form of a signed, contract of sale can indicate whether any genuine bid has in fact been put forward.

If the answer is “no”, then you’re competing with a verbal proposal at best, or a downright fabrication at worst. Don’t be backed into a corner.

3. We haven’t had as much interest as anticipated

Agents who love a good auction are renowned for this.

They reel in potential bidders with guide prices that are often far from the realms of reality, to begin with.

Then net them with rhetoric about sluggish market interest, providing (often false) hope that you stand to secure a bargain come auction day.

To avoid paying money on pest and building inspections when all you might end up with is the taste of bitter disappointment, do some research on the current market.

Start by asking what reserve the vendor might set on the day.

You probably won’t get an upfront figure from the selling agent, but you can measure his response against comparable sales.

You could be really bold and ask what price they quoted on the listing authority.

Having your own knowledge of the local market is a sure-fire way to know when guide prices and reported buyer interest levels are in the realms of reality, or a clever ploy to increase competition at auction.

4. The vendor wants contracts signed up tonight

Really?

I would think that if a vendor has more than one eager buyer throwing offers their way, they’d be happy to wait a while and see how the competition plays out.

If an agent is applying deadlines to negotiations in this manner, you can almost guarantee they either have a personal commitment they want to get to – like a golf game – or the vendor has made no such time stipulation.

If you require more time to do your due diligence or arrange various inspections, don’t be afraid to put an offer in writing with a conditional clause, making this requirement clear.

5. The vendor hasn’t really given us a good indication of their expectations yet

Any real estate agent worth the commission they’re paid knows what their client wants, whether they’ve stated it outright on a sales authority form, or in subtle undertones during an informal chat.

If you’re getting stonewalled on this point, perhaps change your approach slightly and question what type of limit you should set yourself on auction day, given the level of interest in the property.

That way, the agent will be compelled to give you some type of figure, instead of dismissing your query with a little white lie.

6. We’re happy to present any offers prior to auction day

This strategy can say a lot about the circumstances surrounding the listed property, including a vendor who has a specific time frame in which to offload their home for some reason.

More often than not, agents will entice you into making pre-auction offers to test buyer interest, thereby gaining a better insight into how much the market might pay and preparing the vendor to set their target reserve accordingly.

Auction

More ruthless agents can use this information against unsuspecting emotional buyers in particular.

If you make an overly generous offer, for instance, they might use this to set a higher reserve, knowing the desperate bidder will compete to meet it and either pay more than they should at the fall of the hammer or later during post-auction negotiations.

7. You don’t need a solicitor to look over the contract

Err, no!

How does a real estate agent know whether the vendor’s statement (in Victoria) is accurate, for a start?

‘Buyer beware’ definitely applies to the significant financial commitment you make when purchasing a property investment.

It’s essential that you have any contract ok’d by your solicitor or conveyancer before it becomes unconditional and you’re locked in.

8. We don't need to include that as a special clause, the vendors will be fine with it

While it's nice to think any special requests you want to attach to a contract of sale will be honoured on the basis of a verbal say-so, there are no guarantees without a signed, agreed and executed contract.

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Note: Remember, ‘He told me so!” is not a legitimate legal argument.

Neglecting to incorporate any and all requests into a legally binding, written agreement is just setting yourself up for a fall.

How to call their bluff about another offer

Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself against the possibility of an agent extrapolating the truth to talk you into a less-than-desirable deal is to be prepared.

Arm yourself with a good understanding of the market and importantly, recent comparable sales.

If in doubt, consider using a buyer’s agent to help translate ‘agent speak’.

While it might cost you a little more at the point of purchase, it could save you a lot in the long run.

Some people say to hold firm, don’t look inter­ested, don’t raise your offer and see what the agent does.

Wait for a counteroffer.

Well, what if that counteroffer never comes and there really is a buyer?

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This is how many people are gazumped.

The other buyer offered more, you lose the home and get frus­trated at the agent.

What is really hap­pen­ing here, is the buyer has a lack of nego­ti­ation skills.

Some people jus­tify this by say­ing that there are other prop­er­ties out there.

Well, this may be true but it may take you another six months to find that dream home.

A quick way to resolve this issue dur­ing nego­ti­ation is to purely say “are you sure there are mul­tiple offers on this prop­erty as it is illegal for you to lie to me about this” this helps them either to cor­rect them­selves and offers them a way out (this is a great way to test the agent’s nego­ti­ation skills), or they will hold their ground and feel a bit offen­ded.

This is exactly what happened to me and I found out there were mul­tiple offers and it assisted me in secur­ing the prop­erty against higher offers.

Nego­ti­at­ing with the seller dir­ectly good or bad?

Does it cut out the lies?

I have heard stor­ies about buy­ers that have made an offer and have been frus­trated over a mul­tiple offers situ­ation.

They have gone and door knocked the vendor/seller try­ing to get some straight answers.

This usu­ally ends in more anger and stress for the buyer and seller.

“Why,” you ask?

Think about the situ­ation you could be walk­ing into:

  •     The sellers are annoyed that you haven’t gone through the agent and don’t con­sider your offer.
  •     They know about your offer but are insul­ted that it was too low for the home they love so much.
  •     It could be a divor­cing couple and you could talk to the part­ner that doesn’t want to leave (espe­cially for your low­ball offer) and they can get more emo­tional about keep­ing the property
  •     The seller may annoy you, or one of your eas­ily annoyed fam­ily mem­bers, with their nego­ti­ation style and you may decide not to buy because of a per­son­al­ity conflict.

Keep in mind there is a reason why they have hired a real estate agent.

It is usu­ally because they don’t want to nego­ti­ate with a buyer dir­ectly or they would be selling it themselves.

What drives real estate agents, to sell prop­er­ties for more?

Agents do not bene­fit much by get­ting you to raise your offer.

Let me explain, if the agents get you to raise your offer by $2,000 on a $800,000 prop­erty they will only get roughly a $100 based on the aver­age com­mis­sion.

Not to men­tion, the office they work in gets a por­tion of this hun­dred dol­lars.

The agent doesn’t really end up with much espe­cially after their spouse has got a hold of the money.

Buyers Agent

So you might be ask­ing your­self, “What encour­ages the agent to make the seller more money?”

Well, that is pretty simple, the property industry is very old school in its ways and repu­ta­tion can make or break an agent’s busi­ness.

I can’t tell you how many people have decided to sell with a particular agency just because they have heard from friends and fam­ily that they get the best prices for prop­er­ties in their area.

It is simple as that, old-fashioned word of mouth goes a long way in a community.

Agents have a fidu­ciary require­ment to work in the best interest of the seller, there is no hid­ing that.

Obviously agents are aware that the buy­ers they are selling to now, will start to become the sellers of the future.

It makes no sense for an agent to com­prom­ise their integ­rity and lie to buy­ers, as in a few years' time those buy­ers would not want to sell with them.

There is noth­ing more sat­is­fy­ing for an agent than get­ting a phone call, from a buyer or a seller after the dust settles, and hear­ing that we have played a spe­cial part in mak­ing their life just that little bit bet­ter.

Sure, some agents make good money, but people that become selling agents just for the money, usu­ally don’t last long in the industry.

About Leanne Spring Leanne is a highly experienced Buyers Agent in the Brisbane Real Estate market. Leanne became a passionate lover of property in 2001. Since then, both professionally and personally, she has been involved in all aspects of property including purchasing, negotiating, renovating, and selling.
13 comments

When my daughter was looking at a unit - the real estate agents (and I mean nearly all of them) would tell us that the unit and the block didn't flood in the 2022 floods, but then you look at the maps and it definitely did. They totally lie! I was ...Read full version

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Realestate agents cant help but lie in order to get rid of the place. I was told an elderly lady lived underneath in a flat .it wasn't till I moved in I learned it was the fricken landlord. How dare they!If I knew this I wold never have moved in I wa ...Read full version

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I was told by the red estate agent that the home underneath the house was let out to an elderly quiet lady I found out after II had moved in that the little old lady was actually the wicked landlord This was a blatant lie I wouldn't have taken the pl ...Read full version

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