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7 Real Estate Scandals You Can't Afford

November 19 2014

trulia scandals cant affordScandals are fun...when they're on Thursday night and you're watching ABC. In real life they can ruin any chances of earning a potential client and eventually make your business disappear.

The bad news, scandals are easy to fall into. The good news is that they're simple spot and avoid if you know where to look. Here are seven real estate scandals you can't afford, but can avoid—if you're smart:

1. Listing-Gate 2015

Remember! There are good staging strategiesgood staging strategies that truly help to sell homes and then there are magic tricks. Make sure you err on the side of the first.

Avoid staging to cover-up critical factors or flaws that could cause a deal to fall through down the road. Yes, you want to put your best foot forward, but the showing to move-in versions of a home shouldn't be "Jekyll and Hyde."

2. The Social Photo Faux-Pas

All properties aren't created equal, and with Instagram, Photoshop, and other apps, it's all too easy to filter away the blemishes. This might make for great social media fodder, but stumbles dangerously close—and sometimes across—the line of offering an honest and true picture.

Avoid this scandal by using a professional photographer or equipment up front and keeping the retouching to a minimum.

Think you can't afford professional help? Consider enlisting the help of an internenlisting the help of an intern from a local school or university. They get experience and you get great affordable help.

3. The Accidental Client Conflict

In dual agency situations or in situations where your listing and your team member's buyer are a perfect match, things can get hairy if you're not careful.

In this situation, become robo-agent and vehemently protect your client's interest, not the prospect of a deal. If you can't, consider passing along the client as a referral. Let's face it! A referral fee is much better than an ethics complaint any day.

4. Covert Disclosures

Where do bad reviews come from? Most of the time they are generated by clients who claim that their agent didn't inform them well enough. One of the most common information struggles is getting buyers and sellers to fully understand disclosures.

Avoid this scandal and the resulting bad reviews on- and offline by making your clients explain the disclosures to you after you think they've "got it." This creates an opportunity to clear up any confusion that effect your reputation down the road.

5. The Credit Caper

From experience, you know what works with lenders. But be careful how you use that expertise.

Remember that the "little" pieces of advice some agents and lending officers offered ten or so years ago caused the biggest real estate scandal and crisis this generation has ever seen.

Instead, encourage your clients and prospects to be brutally honest, even if it means they won't qualify. Yes, this might mean sacrificing a deal today, but in the long run everyone wins.

6. The Commission Heist

One of the biggest real estate scandals agents fall into doesn't involve their clients at all. It's the scandal of having more month than money or trying to solve the mystery of when and where your commission disappeared.

Too many agents are still suffering from an inability to survive the highs and lows of the business. Little do they know they have the power to get themselves off the real estate roller coasterthey have the power to get themselves off the real estate roller coaster. There's a better way.

7. The Ethics SEO Nightmare

Lastly, people believe Google. If Google says you're an unethical crook, your hopes of winning a client could be over before they've begun.

In many states ethics complaint that show up online databases and turn into search engine results.

Unfortunately, you can't always avoid the complaint, but you can control what clients see online by:

  • Taking your SEO seriously—From your Trulia profile and reviews to SEO optimized IDX websites, you need to make sure you are in complete control of what happens in the search results online.
  • Avoiding the gray areas—Many complaints are arguable, but there's no time to argue in real estate search. Avoid the scandals above and any others that give you a funny feeling.

These are seven of the real estate scandals we see all too often. We realize many of our readers are already coloring in the lines, but feel free to share and help others do better business.

This article was originally published on the Trulia Pro blog. You can find the original version of this article and more tips about working with sellers herehere.