A:

Real estate agents are likely to lie or fudge the details about their own credentials, the value and condition of a property, and the amount of interest in a property. To obtain a listing, a real estate agent may also falsely say she has a buyer lined up for the property.

Whether you are buying or selling a property, when trying to select a real estate agent, consider the amount of experience an agent has, the number of listings he or she has and his or her specialty. An agent may stretch the truth or outright lie about these matters, so before selecting an agent, check the facts.

Incorrect or Misleading Property Descriptions

Real estate agents make money when they sell a property, so in order to promote a property they have listed, they are apt to use language that makes it as appealing as possible to potential buyers – even if what they're saying isn't entirely true. Sometimes agents haven't even seen the property for themselves and merely rely on information gleaned from tax assessments to prepare listings. Some add verbiage to the listings, such as "BATVAI," meaning “buyer's agent to verify all information,” and "IDRBNG," which means "information deemed reliable but not guaranteed." This places the responsibility for accuracy of the listing information on the buyer and his agent rather than on the listing agent.

Be sure to look at any property thoroughly and ask plenty of questions before putting in an offer. A home inspection by a certified inspector can reveal issues you may not see yourself and gives you the opportunity to ask to have certain repairs made before the sale is complete.

Inflated Property Value

It's no secret that homeowners want to make as much money possible when they sell their homes. To secure a listing, real estate agents may assign inflated values to properties, telling prospective sellers their properties are worth more than they actually are. To determine whether or not an agent is giving you a realistic listing price, check the recent sales prices of similar properties in your neighborhood or have an appraisal done to find the appraised value.

Imaginary Buyers

Real estate agents may attempt to lure property owners to list with them by insisting they have the perfect buyer for their property. Asking for the name of the prospective buyer puts the agent on the spot. Beware of any hesitation or negative body language exhibited by the agent when answering.

For the most part, real estate agents are honest hard-working people who are doing their best to sell their clients' properties at a fair price, but it is still a good idea to watch out for these signs that an agent may be lying.

(For related reading, see "Buying a Home: Find an Agent.")

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