What's the shadiest thing you saw a real estate agent do?

The Misleading Renovations Mirage

Oh, the art of sprucing up a property! Renovations can be a double-edged sword. What appeared to be a newly renovated, swanky house turned out to be a disguise for several hidden failings. I saw this particular real estate agent use this tactic. He would creatively mask the property's genuine state by carrying out superficial improvements, which, to a novice, can often be mistaken for significant renovations.

Gleaming hardwood floors, fresh paint coats, new kitchen cabinets, sparking bathroom fittings might lead the buyer into thinking the property is well-maintained. This technique is often referred to as "lipsticking the pig". You guessed it, it has nothing to do with porcine cosmetics. This expression implies covering up significant structural or other defects with a shiny exterior to make the property seem more attractive. And yes, this happened to someone I know, who is now knee-deep in renovation debt, with a smile weaker than his house's foundations.

The 'Unavailable Inspector' Trick

Second, there's the trick known as the 'Unavailable Inspector'. The agent conveniently schedules the property inspection at a time when the buyer is least likely to be available. The aim is to ensure that the buyer is not present during the inspection, thus less likely to ask uncomfortable questions. This happened to a friend who was conveniently told that the only available inspection slot was during his long-planned overseas vacation. Little did he know that this was a ploy by the agent to conceal the property's true condition about its leaky basement.

My advice? Always insist on being present during the inspection, even if it means rearranging your schedule. If the agent insists on a particular inspection time, showing inflexibility, pursue this as a sign of potential trickery. Remember, investing in property is a significant financial commitment; it is worth taking the time to ensure that everything checks out.

The Missing Property Information Ploy

The third shady gimmick I’ve seen at play involves the manipulation of property listings. An agent might conveniently 'forget' to include relevant information about the house's history, which could significantly impact its value and the buyer's decision. For example, constant flooding, past termite infestations, or the house being located on an earthquake fault line.

I distinctly remember this incident where I was with my cousin at an open house. Gushing about the home's old-world charm, the agent also mentioned how the house had been standing for over a century. Impressive, isn't it? Not until my cousin did a little research on his own and discovered that the house had burnt down twice in its 100-year history. If my cousin had only relied on the agent's information, he would have ended up with a bad deal. Thus, it's essential to independently verify the accuracy of the given information.

The Fast Sale Pressure Cooker

My fourth tale of warning is aptly christened the 'Fast Sale Pressure Cooker'. Real estate agents are known for their smooth talk and persuasion tactics. However, it reaches an alarming level when they try to speed up the process by placing unnecessary pressure on the buyer. Ever heard phrases like "This property won't be on the market for long", "We have multiple interested buyers lined up" or "If you don't make an offer soon, you'll miss out"?

Well, I fell victim to this tactic. The sense of urgency compelled me to bypass essential checks, leading to a rushed purchase. Pressure is a classic technique to prevent second thoughts or in-depth investigation. As alluring as such pressure-tactics-laced deals might be, it's imperative to take a step back and make an informed decision. Error on the side of caution, not regret.

The Mysterious Square Footage Swindle

Next in the line of debauchery is the 'Mysterious Square Footage Swindle'. An agent can overstate the square footage of the property - either knowingly or unknowingly. While this might seem like a harmless fudge, it can lead to a significant overvaluation of the property.

This issue arose when my smug, cigar-smoking Uncle Gerald bragged about his new penthouse suite, confident that he snagged a bargain deal. Imagine his surprise when the movers could not fit his grand piano through the doorway - a piano that should've comfortably fit considering the given floor area. It turned out the agent had added the common areas and the terrace into the floor area calculation, giving Uncle Gerald an inflated figure. As they say, pride comes before a fall, or in this case, a grand piano does!

Playing the Price Game

Another dodgy tactic that’s worth your attention is when agents play the 'Price Game'. They'll underprice a property to spark a bidding war, giving the impression of high demand. Alternatively, they might overprice a property, luring you into thinking it's a luxurious bargain.

This rather clever trick was used against my gym buddy, who ended up in a manic bidding war for a property that wasn’t worth half the final price. He got so caught up in the game; he won essentially out of sheer stubbornness. The winner's euphoria faded quickly when his house value plummeted the next year. Keep a cool mind in the storm of bidding wars and adhere to your budget and home valuation estimates.

The Ghost House Specter

Lastly, does it sometimes feel like some houses disappear from the listings faster than a ghost fleeing sunlight? Welcome to the 'Ghost House Specter' club! This tactic involves agents not advertising properties on popular platforms, instead selling them off-market, often to the benefit of the seller.

I once discovered this phenomena when I drove past a "For Sale" sign on a house that didn't appear on any of the mainstream platforms. Later, I discovered that the agent had sold it privately for a much higher price, only benefiting the seller. As potential buyers, it's important to scout the neighborhoods you’re interested in, as relying solely on online listings may cause you to miss out on potentially good deals.

Keeping Your Eyes Wide Open

Real estate can undoubtedly be a can of worms, one where agents sometimes morph into snake oil salesmen. While this article paints a rather grim picture, it's essential to remember that not all agents resort to these practices. Several ethical, hard-working real estate agents out there conduct their businesses with honesty and integrity. Don't let these tales scare you off from your dream of owning your home, rather let them serve as insightful experiences to embolden you to be a knowledgeable, well-informed buyer.

Buying a property is a significant commitment, and it's essential to stay vigilant, informed, and proactive during the process. Be sure to verify the information provided by the agent, don't succumb to pressure, and ensure to conduct due diligence on the property before making a decision—Here's to making well-informed decisions and smart, regret-free purchases in your home buying journey!

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