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Verify Your Real Estate Agent's Credentials

How to Find Out If Your Agent is Lying

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With a little detective work, you can find out just about anything you need to know about a real estate agent's honesty. You can assess whether agents are puffing or giving you a false picture about their abilities, strengths and background, which will help you to determine whether you want to hire any of those agents.
  • Look Up An Agent's Real Estate License

    A national place to start is The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials. If your results show "no data," just click on the name to get the license number. Sometimes this site does not provide accurate dates, but the license numbers are correct.

    Armed with the license number, go to your state's licensing division. Do a search in Google for "(Name-of-your-state) real estate licensing division." Then look for license verification and enter the license number. This will tell you about when the license was originally issued. I say "about" for example, because records at the California Department of Real Estate go back only to about 1980.

    Tip: Some state real estate licensing divisions will disclose if complaints have been filed or whether a license has been temporarily suspended. Of course, you can always run a Google search on the agent's name and city to find out whether the agent enjoys a good reputation.

  • Get a Copy of The Agent's Production Record

    You can ask your agent to print this out from MLS for you or you can ask another real estate agent to do it. For example, you might discover that the agent you are considering has been falsely leading you to believe she is a top producer but she sells only two homes a year.

    Tip: A successful real estate agent generally sells a minimum of one home per month or 12 homes a year.

    From the agent's production record, you can find out:

    1. How many homes the agent has sold per year
    2. How much they sold for
    3. Where they were located.

    Remember, if your agent lies about experience, listings or specialty, do you want to trust that agent to represent you?

    Tip: You might also ask for references. Some agents list testimonials on their web sites but withhold client's names. If a client isn't comfortable having his or her name published, maybe that person isn't a client? If you wonder whether the agent is telling you the truth, ask for client phone numbers and call for first-hand confirmation.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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