Three times in the past two weeks, we have had listings go in bidding wars. Three times in the past two weeks, we have had buyer agents tell me that their buyer client did not believe me that they had competing bids. In each case, those buyers all lost the house. In my own company, we have also had buyer express doubt that there were other offers on a home they wanted to make an offer on, and in those cases too, they didn’t get the home.
Bidding War: Briarcliff Manor
Bidding War: Yorktown Heights
Bidding War: Ossining
Multiple offers: Yonkers, Garrison, Carmel, Hopewell Junction, and probably a few others.
The assumption that a listing agent is lying or fibbing is rooted in the old stereotype that real estate agents are deceitful and will say or do anything to make a sale. The joke about being like used car salespeople often has the punchline of “hey, don’t insult used car salespeople.” The problem with that is that it is untrue. For every deceitful real estate agent you can show me, I’ll point you in the direction of 99 decent, honest and upstanding licensees. Liars don’t last, especially in the market we have seen the past 5 years.
Just think about it pragmatically. An agent lies that there are other offers. You call his bluff and don’t proceed. If he or she is lying, the home remains active and available. Who wants that kind of egg on their face? And what about the liability that might result? No thanks. Instead, what is happening lately is that the home goes to contract quickly, and the cynical buyer is back out there trying to find a home because they didn’t believe what they were told.
From my own point of view, lying would be suicide, if only for practical reasons. I have over 30 agents, the firm has over 60 listings, more than 20 transactions in process, and the permutations of interactions, messages and conversations with other agents, lenders, lawyers, appraisers and the like would mean that my frazzled, overworked and sleep deprived self would have to remember two versions of every conversation in order to protect a fib. I’m 45. I have a wife and 4 kids at home. Life is easier when you have one version of anything to recall. Inadvertently being caught in a lie would be a huge danger with all those moving parts. I don’t even know how I’d keep it all straight.
It is all out there in the media. The bust is gone. Loss of value is gone. Prices have stabilized and risen in some cases. If a listing agent claims to have other offers and you don’t believe them, I suppose you could verify with something in writing from their client or broker, but I would err on the side of trust. Things move quickly in a busy spring market, and the balance of leverage has shifted in many cases to the advantage of the sellers.