I get this question/concern from buyer on almost every deal. It’s not really a concern for me, which is easy to say since it’s not my money. Luckily, we are in an area where the overwhelming majority of agents are honest and ethical. My answer to this question is always the same. I tell my clients, “I’m sure they’re not lying, but even if they are… it doesn’t matter.”
It doesn’t matter?! Shouldn’t I care if my clients are being lied to? Of course I do, but let me explain. You don’t make offers based on what a listing agent tells you to do. Offers are based on reviewing the comps and offering price that you think equates to a fair market value. This market is definitely a little tougher as we are currently in a full blown seller’s market. Almost every deal has multiple offers and many are going above asking price. Therefore, in some cases you may have to offer a little higher than anticipated, if you want to make that specific property your home. If you are convinced that the listing agent is lying, then call their bluff, put in your highest and best offer and if it’s meant to be it will come back to you. That’s a calculated risk you’ll have to take depending on how badly you want the house. My advice is to trust your agent’s gut feeling as they are communicating and building a rapport with the listing agent. They can probably get an accurate feel of the situation over their several conversations with the listing agent. If you don’t have a buyer’s agent, I have to ask if you are absolutely crazy (they are FREE!)…. But that’s a whole other blog.
Now, for my opinion on if they are lying or not. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I can’t say that I’ve ever come across a situation where I think the listing agent is lying about offers. Perhaps, they’ve been a little unethical regarding other issues, but not so much lying about the offer. Why is this? Quite simply, it’s not worth the risk. There is very little to gain. First of all, if we get caught doing something unethically, we can put our license in jeopardy. I can only speak for myself, but I’m not going to risk my career on trying to get a client an extra five or ten thousand dollars. That makes no sense. It also doesn’t seem logical to risk several hundreds of thousands of dollars on an offer that is already placed, to gain a few thousand during a negotiation. For this same reason, it goes against the seller’s best interest to lie about an offer in an attempt to get more money.