When Home Sellers Lie

Los Angeles police chief William Bratton announced this week that he was leaving his post for an undisclosed job in the private sector. What does this have to do with real estate?

Well, a couple of months ago Bratton put his $1.8 million Los Angeles home on the market. Reporters peppered him with questions about why he was selling and if he was leaving his job. According to this account in the Los Angeles Times, Bratton said he had no intention of leaving. He indicated he was selling the house because he was tired of taking care of the pool.

Negotiating a new job when you’ve already got one is a tricky thing. I’m sure Bratton wanted to get his house on the market before the new school year started and the summer buying frenzy cooled. But fibbing to the public?

Bratton’s denying he was leaving town for a new job doesn’t really impact the buyer of his house. In fact, by reminding everyone what a pain pools are he may have even negatively impacted his sale price. The whole episode got me thinking though about whom you can really trust in a real estate transaction. The answer is nobody.

Sure there are certain structural issues, the presence of radon and earthquake fault zones that sellers and agents are legally obligated to reveal to buyers. But with just about everything else you are on your own. You have to do a lot of homework. Talk to neighbors. Come by at night and at day. And never take one person’s word as gospel, not even the chief of police.

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