3 Immediate Steps to Do If Your Real Estate Agent Lies

Female real estate agent shaking hands with a couple.

Selling or buying a house is one of the most significant financial transactions you will make. You want a real estate agent working for you who only has your best interests in mind. Unfortunately, you may end up with a real estate agent who is not trustworthy. Then, knowing what to do if your real estate agent lies is essential.

When Real Estate Agent Lies

When we were looking for a new home last year, we saw a house and dismissed it because the tub looked like it had mold around the rim. However, I liked the seller’s agent, so I called her to see if she’d help us find a house. She suggested we look again at the home where I thought I saw mold. She said, “I’m sensitive to mold and can smell it. This house does not smell like mold.” In addition, she told us a large horizontal crack in the basement was not cause for concern.

Because we only had a week to find a house, we put in an offer contingent upon inspection. We chose a home inspector independent of the real estate agent (she had recommended her own inspector), and he found mold not only in the tub but also in the attic, the first floor, and the basement. And the basement crack? It was a structural issue that would cost thousands to fix. Even after the inspector’s report, the real estate agent insisted the report wasn’t valid. Needless to say, we didn’t choose her as our real estate agent because we needed one we could trust.

How to Avoid Hiring a Lying Real Estate Agent

Prevention is the best medicine. Finding an honest real estate agent is easier than taking steps after a dishonest real estate agent lied to you. These steps can help you find a reputable agent:

Hire a Realtor

Realtors have certain obligations that real estate agents do not. A Realtor is a National Association of Realtors (NAR) member. This means, “active real estate agents who would like to join the organization must have a valid real estate license and an immaculate professional conduct record. . .All Realtors are required to adhere to an extensive Code of Ethics, so consumers may feel at ease knowing that they are working with agents who are thoroughly vetted and have sworn to uphold certain professional standards” (FortuneBuilders).

Research Their Credentials

In addition to learning if the person is a Realtor, you’ll also want to research her credentials. According to UpNest, “Most states offer license verification online where you can search by the agent’s name or license number.”

Check Their Reviews Online

If they’re available, check the agent’s reviews online.  You can learn a lot from the agent’s former clients who leave reviews.

Don’t Allow Dual Agency

Dual agency is when an agent represents the buyer and seller in a transaction. This is never a good idea because working for both the seller (who would like to sell for as much as possible) and the buyer (who would like to get a bargain) represents a conflict of interest. To ensure your real estate agent is seeking your best interest, she must represent only you and your interests in a transaction.

Hire Your Own Inspector

As I mentioned in our experience, if you progress far enough in the real estate transaction that you need to hire a home inspector, hire an independent inspector. Never hire one that the seller’s agent recommends. I’d additionally argue that you shouldn’t hire one your real estate agent recommends. Instead, research and hire an outside home inspector to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest.

Immediate Steps to Do If Your Real Estate Agent Lies

Hopefully, you can avoid a dishonest real estate agent by taking the above steps. However, if that does not work and your real estate agent lies, these are the steps you can take:

Fire the Agent

When you learn about the deception, fire the real estate agent. If you’re lucky, you discover the fraud before you’ve bought or sold a house. If you’re not that lucky, there are other steps you can take.

File a Complaint with the Licensing Agency in Your State

When you file a complaint with the licensing agency in your state, you need to include evidence to support the claim that your real estate agent lies. According to UpNest, you need to “gather every possible document you have that highlights how your Realtor failed to act in your best interest. This could include emails, home inspection documents, your home contract, and the contact information of anyone involved.”

UpNest also recommends that as soon as you know you want to file a complaint, you take time to write down all the details of your interactions. Cases against real estate agents may take months as the governing board also needs to conduct its own investigation and interview witnesses. In the meantime, you don’t want to forget details, so write them down while your memories are fresh.

Consider Suing the Agent

Scales and gavel representing justic system

You may want to sue if you lost a significant amount of money thanks to a dishonest real estate agent. When you file a complaint with the licensing agency in your state, you’re only getting out the word that the agent behaved unethically. You are not getting compensation. Suing the agent can help you recoup funds you might have lost.

You will need to hire an attorney who can tell you if you have enough evidence to bring forward a case and who can represent you in court. You’ll also want to look at your state and see the statute of limitation for suing a real estate agent. (Some states don’t allow you to bring forward a case after four or five years.)

Final Thoughts

Buying or selling a home is stressful. Unfortunately, unknowingly hiring a real estate agent who lies worsens the process. Research beforehand to try to hire a reputable agent. If you still have trouble, you have options to recoup any money you lost.

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