Ok, so no one has asked me this exactly, although they’ve certainly insinuated that realtors can’t be trusted. I had two different client parties in the span of two days ask me if realtors lie about having other offers to try to create some artificial leverage with buyers. I think I read at one point that realtors rank right up there with car salespeople on the public trust meter, and I can’t really blame anyone for wondering. If you’ve got Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street croaking, “greed is goooood” in your ear every time you see a realty sign, you’re probably not alone.
The fact of the matter is that some realtors probably can’t be trusted–currently there is no way to know if an agent has other offers when she says she has them. Like any very social business, there are other things an agent might be fibbing about and no real check for validating their claims. Although it is the case that realtors are held by a code of ethics and are trained extensively in ethical behavior (which includes the imperative to be truthful), I’m sure that some out there will say things knowingly that aren’t accurate. However, it appears to me that the vast majority of agents I’ve dealt with tell the truth. I know this because they will tell me things that are not terribly favorable things to disclose (but are things that they are legally obligated to disclose). Also, before making an offer I usually ask the listing agent if they have any offers or are expecting any, and so many say no.
So, I think what my curious clients don’t think about when wondering about the general moral fortitude of agents is that for many of us, this is our full-time job. In other words, we know we’re going to see other agents in the field and will possibly work with them at some point. And if we build up a reputation among other agents as being untrustworthy, then no one will want to work with us. In the end, like most things, it pays to be kind, professional, and honest (while protecting your client’s interests, of course), and it appears to me that most agents in the Triangle know this.