Wednesday, March 21, 2007/
We’re all used to the “renovator’s delight” stretching of the truth, but downright false advertising can really get you into trouble.
“But it had a pool in the ad…”
No matter how much you’re in love with your property, no matter how much you think it’s worth when you come to sell it, never let yourself – and more particularly your real estate agent – get carried away in the way you present it to the market.
In other words, beware the (increasingly nasty) pitfalls of false advertising, because the justice system awaits you otherwise.
Does that sound like a no-brainer to you? Well, I’m glad to hear it.
But it pays to remember there are traps that anybody can easily fall into.
For instance, not so long ago in Queensland, an agent was sued months after the buyer moved into a house that had been advertised – at the seller’s insistence – as “backing directly on to parkland”.
The court found in favour of the buyer, fined the agent and suspended his licence because there was no gate leading through the back garden fence into the park.
Deception? Probably not. Naivety? Perhaps.
But I’m also amazed at how otherwise rational, intelligent and even reasonably well-mannered property owners/investors can go a teeny bit bonkers when trying to flog their assets.
And believe me, when you read some of the absurd nonsense that passes for advertising copy in real estate ads, it’s not always the agent’s fault!
Here’s a case in point: an agent mate of mine recently listed a good house in an exclusive street in a great neighbourhood.
The vendor seemed a level-headed enough type: you know, runs his own successful niche beauty products business, plays golf at the right club, has a decent sort of car parked in the triple garage, etc etc (incidentally, next week I’ll be revealing just what criteria real estate agents use to judge their clients – don’t miss it!).
However, Mr Nightly Moisturiser also suffered from a classic case of pee-pee envy – that’s agent-speak for “pool and price”. His was not only the one house in the street without a swimming pool (not even a spa, for God’s sake) but he also petulantly refused to accept this would affect the price.
“I want to advertise it at the same price as number 12,” said Mr Miracle Collagen Formula.
“Okay, but you realise that house has a huge pool,” said my friend.
After considerable gnashing of teeth behind his estate agent fixed grin, my friend finally thought he had convinced Mr Chemical Peel to lower his price expectations by suggesting they insert the words “room for a pool” in the ad.
“I’ve got a better idea,” said Mr Soothing Facial Scrub. “Our ads can show that my place has an even bigger pool than number 12!”
Nervously my friend enquired “Er, how do we do that?”
To which Mr Varnish Remover retorted triumphantly: “Photoshop!”