It's hard, at times, to tell if a person is joking around or not when you receive an email. I am not a big fan of smiley faces, but against my better judgment, I can be guilty of slipping them into emails. That's because not everybody appreciates my wry sense of humor. And sometimes I'm so busy that I literally don't have time to make sure my parenthesis is facing the right way. It's easy to type a frowny face by mistake. I'm so happy that you sent me a photo of your new baby; she's adorable. Frowny face.
We can all make mistakes, honest mistakes. We're only human. But what about the people who deliberately set out to deceive and then claim they made a mistake? Or worse, don't rectify it? And those people are real estate agents? I ask myself if I should report them. On the one hand, I pretty much leave other agents alone and don't turn them in, even when I spot blatant, unethical behavior. I'm not the ethics police. I also don't have time for it. I subscribe to the theory that what comes around, goes around. Or maybe that phrase is the other way around? Whatever, somebody else will get them.
Whether to report a violation is one thing, but another aspect is whether one should one talk about it in public. If it's information the public should probably know, I say, yes, even if it tends to taint the profession. Other agents may disagree and say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
So, I'm just gonna tell you what happened. Without naming the website, I tried to manually post a new listing but the site told me the home was already claimed. Not surprising; it was listed before. I clicked on the details and noticed the home was listed for sale by an agent other than the previous listing agent. But it had the old listing number attached to it.
I called the seller to find out if she had any knowledge of this agent. Nope. The seller called the agent. Immediately, the agent dove into bait and switch mode. The seller made it clear that it was her home she was calling about and she was not a buyer. The agent mumbled something about this being a very confusing situation and promised to remove it.
A few days went by, and the listing was still published under that agent's name. Hmmm. I wondered how many other Sacramento listings were swiped and misrepresented. Usually, people who would do unethical things do other unethical things. That agent had a couple of pages worth of listings. I ran the first 5 addresses in MLS. Not one belonged to that agent. What a good idea, the agent might have thought. I know how to get buyers to call me. I'll just swipe a bunch of listings, who cares if they're even for sale or not, and post them on a website as my own. Brilliant. No, it's stupid. And it's unethical.
I finally notified the staff at that website, and several people responded. It's difficult to regulate, they say. Well, how about you make the poster check a box that says, "If this listing doesn't belong to me, I authorize you to charge my credit card a $1,000." They liked that idea. I heard giggles. And the website removed the listing.
Why should the public care? Because the Internet is unregulated. It's difficult to trust some of what you read. You should not rely on information found on questionable or unknown websites. If you're searching in Google for "how to make dog biscuits," you might not want to follow the recipe published by survivalists-who-eat-dogs dot com. If you're looking for a real estate agent, ask a friend for a referral. If you find the agent online, check out that agent. It's very easy for an agent to produce a print-out from MLS containing that agent's production records. You might want to ask for it. And use a smiley face in your request.
Certified HAFA Specialist
Sacramento Real Estate Listings
Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, home buying expert for About.com, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout the four-county Sacramento area with an emphasis on Elk Grove. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 40 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate. BRE License # 00697006.
The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, available with free shipping.
Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of Lyon Real Estate. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.