When In Doubt, Lie Like A Rug!

By Phly Jambor | Posted: June 28, 2010

For Sale - Waterfront PropertyHow many times have you seen “JUST NEEDS A LITTLE TLC!”?

We all do it. We tell those little “white lies” that are not really a lie, but just a kinder of saying things, right? WRONG!

There are so very many things the a Realtor is not allowed by law to say, and they are really good about avoiding those 99.9% of the time. On the other hand there are many things that a Realtor should not say, and those, well they are not so good about sometimes. One of the things Realtor’s are most infamous for is prettying up the truth about a property. “I think it’s a REALLY cute kitchen.” When the actual truth is that no one could pay you a million, make that a billion, dollars to live there, especially not with a kitchen that is so bad that it is now the newest setting for your nightmares. So before you get angry and say that I’m calling you a pack of liars, which is not my intention by the way, let’s just stop and consider these few things first:

The White Lies

1. Have you ever told a client that you thought something was cute, when you actually hated it. In fact you were fervently wishing for a flame thrower to obliterate the horrible crime against humankind, but instead you lied like a rug because you thought it might help sell the house?

2. Have you ever told a client that there was a “little” something, like the paint is a “little” bright, when in reality it’s screaming electric blue?

3. Have you ever called something “minor” knowing it was not? “There is a “minor” leak in the ceiling, just step on over the sheet-rock pieces (ones bigger than your head) and we can go see the rest of the house!” (I actually had this happen! The entire ceiling in that particular room was coming down and the Realtor had the gall to tell me that there was “minor water damage”!)

4. Have you ever lied outright about a client’s clothing or hair style? “Oh, I just love that you shaved your head and pierced your tongue! It’s so attractive on a woman of 55!”

Ok, so that last one was a rather extreme example. But it all amounts to the same thing, they are a type of lie. Now I am not saying that you need to be rude to your clients, that is not the case at all. I am simply saying that as a Realtor you have to be VERY careful about what you say, and even though somethings are permissible, you still should not say them! Things are tough for everyone out there right now, and it makes the temptation to gloss over things almost unbearable. So let me give you a few things to remember to help ease that temptation, and your clients will appreciate your honesty.

The Truth

1. You Don’t Have To Like It. If you walk into a house and your client just LOVES the totally hideous kitchen, be happy for the poor misguided soul, but don’t resort to outright lying to cinch a sale. If the only thing that you can stand about it is the sink, then just say “I’m so glad you like it!” This one is more a matter of keeping yourself honest at all times. Remember, one little fib quickly can turn into a big whopper. And if the client finds out later that you hate it, then their faith in you as a Realtor just flew out the window.

2.Little Honesty Is Really Big. It really is the little things that count, because they can very quickly pile up and drown a deal before it even gets started. If the walls are a screaming neon, tell your client! Expecting a peaceful pale blue room, and getting instead a super loud, disco style lounge is not going to do anything to further your client relationship.

3. Minor verses Major. There is nothing worse in the world for a client than walking into a house and realizing that the Realtor they are working with is a blind optimist. Really. If you know that there is a huge hole in the floor , tell them there is a problem with the floor. Not “The floor has some minor problems.”, just “There is an issue with the floor.” That way you are totally honest.

4. Stay Away From Extremely Personal Comments. Here is where it gets really tricky, because everyone wants to feel good about themselves and you can usually tell when someone has gone to great lengths to look nice or when they have totally redone their style. So when your client asks you if you like their new shoes, hair etc, smile and say something like ” I noticed there there was something different about you today!” Remember, those shoes may look like two boa-constrictors strangling her legs, but they make her happy. And by asking her where she got them, you now know where not to shop.

5. When In Doubt, Tell The Truth. This one is obvious. You don’t have to be brutal or unkind. Just the simple truth in a kind tone will do quite nicely, thank you.

I have a personal example to illustrate a situation in which honesty would have been greatly appreciated. I went with a Realtor to view a home, knowing it was in pretty rough shape. It was a bank repossession that had been through two owners in as many years and both of them had gotten part way through do-it-yourself remodels, in other words I was hoping that the house was structurally sound but that’s about it. I expected some major issues and did I ever find them! Just not where I was expecting to. The biggest problem I could see was that a do-it-yourself roofing job had gone completely awry. The roof obviously leaked and you could see it in many parts of the house, however the Realtor kept saying things like “Oh that’s just a minor water problem.”¬† or “It’s just a little tiny leak.” As I stated above, the entire ceiling in the room in question was coming down, anyone could see that! I could clearly see huge water filled bubbles, warping, ripples, rot and decay, as well as massive chunks of sheet-rock that had fallen to the floor. I was actually slightly afraid that the ceiling would fall in on me if I went in the room. And yet the Realtor persisted in telling me it was just “minor water damage”. . . . Riiiiight! If that was minor, what in the world classifies as major? The entire house falling in? The Realtor was obviously desperate to unload the house, and seemed willing to say just about anything to to so. It was awful. Now I not only had no desire to purchase the house, I had no faith in my Realtor.

The good news is, I went through the house a second time with another Realtor, the listing agent actually, and the experience was night and day. They were completely honest about everything. When I pointed out the water damage to the ceiling the gave me a simple answer “I’m not an expert on the subject, but it does look pretty bad and it will definitely need repairing. I can give you the name of a reputable inspector that would be able to tell you what you are dealing with.” To the point, no little “white lie” and followed up with a helpful suggestion.

To make a long story short, I did not end up buying the house, but I did, fortunately, get my faith back in Realtor-kind. So the next time you contemplate telling a fib to help a sale, just don’t do it and in the long run everyone involved will be much happier and guilt free.

Trust me, The Truth will set you free.



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My first house was a fixer upper. I am a contractor and was able to bring the house up to sdtadarns quite affordably which resulted in an amazing return when I sold the house. If you can do repairs cheaply, look for homes that are 20,000 or more below because they need updating (kitchen/bathroom/flooring). These can really boost the value of a house like this which will put nice green backs in your pocket on the sale.


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