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Secret Realtors Cannot Tell You!


I was having coffee with a client, and she was telling me she had a rough time with someone who did not tell the truth. And we got into this conversation about the different languages that are spoken in America. And she goes, well, it kind of boils down to, you know, English….and, lying, I added, lying is the second language in America. It is in style. This was not a political conversation we were having, we were talking about scammers out there online, people who lie about who they are. Both of our phones were ringing with spam calls at this time. We talked about having to be so guarded and people don’t tell you the truth about things and they don’t tell you the truth about who they are, and they make personas. It is hard to know what their real motivation is.

Have you received multiple caller ID and unidentified calls. I have gotten calls from towns in certain states that I’m fairly certain that nobody who lives in that state or in that area even knows that town exists. We are in this era, probably more from computers than people, but it is hard to know who to trust.

And it got me thinking, I had a blog sent to me by a real estate company about lying. And that’s one of the biggest fears that buyers and sellers have of working with realtors because they have either had a bad experience or somebody, they know has warned them of evil realtors. The realtor lied about the condition of the home that they bought, lied about the offer that they’d received, lied about there being more offers or contract conditions they did not agree to.

In a lot of my videos, I always counsel people when they’re thinking of buying and selling and hiring a real estate agent is to ask certain questions and ask questions of agents in a certain way. I also caution people to make sure that they really understand what they want to do. And when you are hedging around things that you want, you’re not saying the price you want to sell for or you are asking a lot of questions, but not clear about your intentions you can find yourself in a pickle. Do some homework on your own, about houses and contracts this is important and that is why I try so hard to get the information out there to make sure all is clear.

One time, I sold a house with without siding on some of it, the insulation was just hanging out on one side of the house. Buyers and I were really nervous about what was underneath in the unexposed areas. I told the buyers; I did not know what was underneath there. I didn’t think it would be that expensive. And he said, “no, I know it’s going to be that expensive. And it was, I was wrong, but I wasn’t in a position of lying I did not know. He did some homework and found out. He did not blame me for not knowing. Yet in another instance it could be seen as lying. These are big, huge purchases and huge sales. Lots of zeros. And it is important to get with someone that you feel that you can trust and who is going to tell you the truth.

But sometimes there is stuff as realtors that we cannot tell you because we are under legal obligation to adhere to fair housing laws. And by omission someone may also think we are lying. We are not supposed to disclose if a couple is getting divorced if that is why the property is for sale. (Unless the sellers told us Realtors it was okay to discuss). If I’m walking through with a buyer and I’m looking around, and I only see clothes in the closet from, obviously one person, there’s one fork out, one coffee cup, and we know the house is owned by two people. I can mention my suspicion. But this should not be a conversation the listing agent should be discussing without permission. I have been asked very personal questions in my time, and I have gotten really good at changing the subject to protect privacy and stay within discrimination and fair housing guidelines which I am bound to by law.

When we know sometimes that information that is conveyed to us should stay private and an agent just says, “write up the offer, yeah, they’re getting a divorce.” I am always curious is it okay that you said that? I have been asked private questions about a buyer or seller, and I’ve gotten really good at maneuvering around them, not lying, but masking or diverting the conversation to what is relevant.

Selling in California you really have to disclose everything you know about your property. I had buyers ask questions that were sent to the seller and the seller indicated they did not know, buyer said they should tell us. No. If the seller doesn’t know they are not required to research on your behalf. If you have a question and that question is not being answered that question might be, what kind of trees does the neighbor have, what is the soil comprised of, if the seller is not a geologist they may not know. Answers are out there but the seller is not compelled to know that is not lying, they just do not know.

Questions about the property or something that may have happened on the property. There is a really good chance a seller knows those answers. If somebody has died on the property and how they’ve died is relevant within the last three years. I always counsel it is best to be truthful and disclose it even if it happened more than three years ago. Why? The disclosure law is only three for three years. And I’m sure an attorney may disagree with me, and there might be some law, I’m not supposed to say this, but surprise, is always the catalyst for a lawsuit. It is best to try to minimize surprise, I always tell a seller, tell them everything you know, everything you got, give it all to them because more than likely they’re going to find out. And if they think the seller knew about and not disclosed it, it is a problem.

I had a seller years ago, who did not want to disclose that something tragic had happened to her family member on the property, but we had to, it was within the three years. I asked if the neighbors knew. And she said “yes” As soon as the sign goes down there’s going to be a knock on the door. And it’s going to be, “Hey, did you know what happened to the guy who lived here before you?” It is best to get out in front of it. The agent is not supposed to discuss familial, religious private information, but there are disclosure laws here in California that you must adhere to.

Sometimes we have to skirt around information, and when a buyer or seller understands an agent is doing that, they may feel they are being lied to about other things. And really the agent is acting on behalf of their client in their fiduciary duty to that party. There are discrimination zones as it were, for instance. For instance, if there’s a neighborhood that is no good and has a lot of crime, we are not supposed to say it is a bad neighborhood, it is considered steering. We have to advise to check with the local sheriff or the police department, and just see what they think of this neighborhood, or maybe drive through there on a Friday night at 10 o’clock?

I think for good realtors, I think that’s why people think realtors are lying. I’m not talking about the ones that try to push you into a sale and not disclose conditions about a property or something that might be going on within the area. But we have to make sure that we stay within our fair housing guidelines and laws.

When I’m listing a house and I have a seller moving. I will suggest we can just let the buyer know that you really loved this home, but you’re going to be near family or you’re going to go downsize or you’re going to go live in New Zealand.

Car salespeople, lawyers, politicians, and realtors we all have a bad reputation, but there’s also some other stuff going on behind the scenes. Realtors have to navigate a pathway to lead you down and we cannot discuss everything we may know. And I have had people ask me very personal questions about buyers and sellers, and as I’ve gotten better about just stating “I think that is probably personal to them. And I don’t know if they’re comfortable telling us about that” and having people realize yes that is none of our business.

I think there are more languages in America than just English and lying, so as we understand we are being confronted with people and situations it may be hard to trust that they are telling you the truth or that they are even real. I recommend being forthcoming about your motivation for the question and you may have better luck getting the question answered. And also understand some information is private and has to be protected by law, or may sound like another language.

fair housing laws:


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