With any business or profession, the general public has often formulated a group of beliefs that are commonly
held as fact. Some of these beliefs may be well deserved; others may be born out of an isolated incident or reflect
past practices that are no longer in place.
Here are a few of the more common real estate myths, let's seperate fact from fiction.
1. When buying, working directly with the listing agent will help me get a lower price for the house.
Some buyers think a seller can save money on real estate commissions if there is no buyer’s agent involved with
In reality, sellers have usually negotiated to pay a total amount of commission, regardless of whether one or two
agents are part of the process. If you don’t have a buyer’s agent representing you, it just means more commission
for the listing agent. There can be exceptions, but in most cases, there’s nothing to be gained and a lot to be lost
by not availing yourself of the expertise offered by a buyer’s agent.
2. The higher I price my house, the more money I’m likely to get for it.
Pricing a house for sale is one of the most important yet most often bungled parts of a real estate sale. Some
sellers think they’re building in extra negotiating room. But overpricing your house right out of the gate almost
always results in a negative impression by buyers, as well as agents, and that impression will ultimately depress
the perceived value of your property.
Removing the stigmatization of being overpriced usually requires that you compensate with multiple price
reductions, resulting in a lower sales price than would have been achieved if the house was reasonably priced
from the start.
3. If I look long enough, I’ll find the perfect house.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect house. Unless you have an unlimited budget, buying a house is a set of
You might find a place that has the perfect lot, but the house isn’t everything you want it to be, or vice- versa. So
unless you want to make house shopping a multi-year hobby, try to prioritize your needs and recognize there will
be trade-offs. If you get 85 percent or more of everything you want, that’s doing pretty well.
4. Working with a lot of real estate agents will improve my chances of finding the right house.
Some buyers go out there and fire up half a dozen real estate agents, thinking that the more agents they have
beating the bushes, the better their chances will be in finding the right house at the right price.
First off, agents are all playing with the same deck of cards since there’s only one multiple list system to draw
listings from. There really aren’t any “secret” listings that can give certain agents the inside track.
Second, developing a close relationship with just one agent will allow that agent to more fully understand your real
estate needs and wants.
And third, agents work on 100 percent commission, so be judicious about using their time if you’re not really
serious about including them in a transaction to buy or sell.
5. With all the information available on the Internet, I don’t really need a real estate agent.
It’s true that you can find just about anything on the Internet. We’re sure you can find detailed instructions on the
Web about how to remove your spleen. But that doesn’t mean such a thing is necessarily a do-it-yourself kind of
There are many internet sites that can help you locate possible homes to buy. But when it comes to negotiating a
purchase or making sure a transaction actually gets to settlement, a laptop will never replace a real live agent.
6. In today’s market, it’s always a good idea to first lowball sellers.
Since we’ve been in a buyer’s market for some time now, many buyers think “what the heck, let’s throw a lowball
offer in there and see if we get lucky.” If it’s a house you’re willing to walk away from, that may be fine. But, if it’s a
house you really want, lowballing the seller might poison your ability to ultimately do a deal.
When the initial offer is unreasonably low, sellers frequently get their back up, and they can become significantly
less pliable when it comes to further price negotiations.
7. Sellers should never take the first offer.
Every once and a while, we put a house on the market and it gets an offer right off the bat. Even if that offer is a
good one, sellers frequently start second-guessing themselves and are reluctant to take a contract that comes in
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen a seller turn down that offer, only to find (six months later) that it was
the one they should have taken. A fast offer for top-dollar doesn’t automatically mean you underpriced your house.
You may have just been lucky to get someone who wanted a place exactly like yours, who was out there shopping
right when you put it on the market.
8. If I wait, the market will turn in my direction.
The only problem with this theory is that we’re in a very uncertain market, and trying to time the market is nearly an
impossible thing to do.
Since we’re in a period of transition, the chances that market conditions will appreciably change to benefit either
buyers or sellers is very low. In all likelihood, we will experience slow price appreciation, which will benefit sellers.
But, along with that price appreciation, we will also have more homes come to market, something that will be to
the advantage of buyers. As a result, neither side will find themselves in the driver’s seat over the foreseeable
9. Real estate agents try to drive up home prices so they will get paid more.
People know agents get paid as a percentage of a property’s selling price. So it’s not unreasonable to assume
that agents would have a vested interest in higher prices. But that’s not really true.
If someone pays an extra $5,000 for a house, the additional commission for the agent will be less than $100.
Plus, if an agent were to blow a deal apart by pressing for a few more dollars in the sales price, their commission
would become zero. No agent is going to risk a $7,000 commission in hopes of making an extra hundred bucks.
Besides, the market, seller motivation and comparable sales dictate prices, not agents.
10. Now is a bad time to sell, or now is a bad time to buy.
You wouldn’t think that both of these could be true at the same time, but unless you’re an investor, they can be.
The reason is that houses aren’t purely a financial decision.
There are many other non-financial factors that can come into play. People get married; people get divorced; they
have babies; any number of things can happen that may inspire you to buy or sell a home. Waiting for the most
favorable economic environment to do so, isn’t always possible. Saving a few extra dollars in a real estate
transaction usually isn’t worth compromising the quality of your home life.
As we said, there are misconceptions that exist in every business. Real estate is no exception, and there are
many more myths than the few we touched on here. Solid information is always a key to success in making good
decisions. So, when it comes to real estate, make sure you’re dealing with reality, and not being misled by
perceptions that are out of date with how the process works, or out of sync with what’s going on with the market.