53 Manzanita Kitchen
Speaking of listing license, from a reader with respect to the listing for 53 Manzanita which notes an “Updated kitchen”:

It drives me insane when realtors say “updated kitchen” when that update occurred 40+ years ago. I would bet that the original cabinets are still intact as are most of the appliances. That isn’t “updated” in my book. There oughta be a law…

As far as we know there aren’t any laws when it comes to listings, and perhaps nary a rule.
As we noted back in 2006 after we first exposed the practice of relisting to “refresh” an unsold property and its official days on the market (DOM):

The National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics provides that “Realtors shall be careful at all times to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public,” though Lucien Salvant, a spokesman for NAR, said that MLSs are not considered advertising vehicles.”

And as we wrote at the time, taking the position that “MLSs [and by extension their listings] are not considered advertising vehicles” is an utterly asinine argument.
Our assessment of NAR’s aforementioned position hasn’t changed.
Mad Men On Manzanita [SocketSite]
Sorry NAR, But No [SocketSite]
You Can Relist, But You Can’t Hide [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Modernqueen

    Bottom line is this:
    Realtors lie, twist the truth, embellish, puff up, use creative language, and oh yea…lie to sell property.
    The “updated kitchen” statement is a prime example of this behavior.
    What else don’t we know?

  2. Posted by Kazee

    Well I don’t want to defend the use of “update kitchen” however, if this is not the same kitchen when the house was constructed/built, then technically it is an “updated kitchen”
    Now of course its not “updated” to the standards most buyers expect, but if its not the original kitchen, then…
    Yes I know I am reaching here.

  3. Posted by Modernqueen

    Yea, you’re reach so far, you’re gonna fall off the damn ladder.

  4. Posted by Kazee

    lol, yep.
    Well I usually play devils advocate, so I tried to change it up today :)
    All n all, the wording was not the smartest decision to include in the listing, however I still stand by my original post.

  5. Posted by Been there

    Any buyer with a brain would never rely on a description to judge a property, so not sure why anyone would feel offended or scammed by such a statement ( “updated.” ) All it takes is a look at the photos to see the condition. Poetic license is generously employed to sell more than houses.
    PS. I still think this is a good project for someone with vision!

  6. Posted by sparky-b

    I think saying updated is basically saying “not remodeled, but with a few newer appliances”. So nobody is fooled. It’s fine.

  7. Posted by Modernqueen

    @sparky-b: but that’s not really what they said. That’s what you implied they said. big diff.
    Yes, a buyer should obviously look in person at the property and the kitchen to see what is and isn’t “updated”
    But I still say, as I did in my earlier post: Realtor’s lie to sell.

  8. Posted by kthnxybe

    The original cabinets and cooktop are kind of neat. The rest of it doesn’t look like it belongs – and is possibly the “updated” part.
    Seriously – that unsightly counter/backsplash, surely there is no way it could have sold the first time with that going on.

  9. Posted by wifey

    We recently updated a rental house in the Oceanside dist. It looks exactly like this. We painstakingly brought it back to its illustrious look of yesteryear with recycled material from the dumps. I also employed local, indigenous people to do the work per new city contract rules. I consider it green and LEEDS. How dare they accuse us real estate folks of twisting the facts.

  10. Posted by tipster

    As long as we’re switching sides here, I suspect the lying isn’t done to sell, as few people would buy a home they didn’t visit, but I suspect the realtors feel enormous pressure to impress their clients by getting people to attend the open house, so that when a trailer doesn’t sell for 1.6, they can say it wasn’t their fault, it was the fault of your ugly POS property.
    I also suspect the sellers wanted that in there, because, after all, do you know how much we spentin 1970 for that gold flecked formica, and wanted the kitchen to be noted as updated.
    When ityou doesn’t sell, itt will stillyou be thea realtors fault. The sellers will demand a bigger sign, open houses 8 days a week, etc, before giving in and admitting green carpet might be a teensy bit off putting and springing for a thimble to cover one square millimeter of it up to make it less noticeable.
    The realtor can justify the lie by noting he did take a photo, and the buyers could see it themselves when they arrived. Besides, after you’ve been to a few disappointing open houses, you do learn to spot the BS.

  11. Posted by quip

    ^^ Tip, are you,,
    (gasp!)
    defending the listing??
    !!OMG!!
    I take it you either know the realtor/ are sweet on the listing/ or have decided that SFRE is about to app 15% YoY and need to climb to the other side of the fence in a hurry..
    Still, jaw on the floor…….
    -Q

  12. Posted by tipster

    Not defending it, but setting the expectation: many realtors lie because they feel pressure to get people to show up. So you should expect it, and don’t get too excited from the listing.

  13. Posted by notafan

    This is bound to offend, but the simple truth is: realtors lie regularly. I will qualify that and say that there are a few good realtors out there– so it is not everyone. But in general, realtors can defend themselves with “Any buyer with a brain would never rely on a description to judge a property, so not sure why anyone would feel offended or scammed by such a statement ( “updated.” ),” but where does it stop? i.e. realtors lie in an open house listing but there is no harm because they are just trying to get people to the open house and then the people will clearly see that what was said in the listing is not true, so what’s the harm in lying blatantly?? Even on this website, there have been more egregious realtor lies that have been called out.
    Over two decades, almost every industry has had more competition, higher standards, lower margins and commissions. The NAR and their huge lobbying budget keeps this at bay partially. Eventually the internet will erode their fiefdom.
    Yes, I have had terrible terrible experiences with realtors lying in more significant ways and yes there are zero consequences for them. Find a good realtor and stick with him/her because the industry as a whole is a joke. Fortunately for the NAR, most people don’t buy a house more than a couple of times in their lifetimes so they don’t realize how bad the industry is. You could devote a whole site just to realtor ethics.

  14. Posted by [anon.ed]

    “Realtor’s lie to sell.”
    Seems like people are arguing that the realtor said “remodeled” instead of “updated?” Maybe he/she should have said “updated appliances” instead. Also, nice apostrophe ^

  15. Posted by EH

    I love it, whenever a realtor’s involved it’s always someone else’s fault.

  16. Posted by kathleen

    Not ALL Realtors lie. At least not all the time.
    I am top 1% rich, my boyfriend is 25 years old, an underwear modle for A&F, holds a double Ph.D in macro economics and dancing. Good.
    Met my SFAR quota for the day.

  17. Posted by Geto Verit

    Here is an idea. Don’t buy the house if you don’t like the old update. Wow what was the agent supposed to say, Fugly Kitchen?

  18. Posted by A.T.

    Well, it seems to be unanimous that realtors lie all the time. Now we are only debating their motivations for doing so!
    This example shows how engrained the tendency is. There was no need to lie! Just say “Kitchen in need of updating, but is large with plenty of natural light and includes a breakfast nook.” Thing is, if a prospective buyer walks in and sees that the realtor bull***tted about one thing, the natural assumption is that there is lots of other bull***t around.

  19. Posted by Geto Verit

    I only signed up to comment on this because I thought it was another perfect example of how the whinners in these comments attack perfectly honest realtors. Can you really not see in that picture exactly what the update is?
    Commenters on this site attacked a friend of mine last year who is one of the most honest people I know. They called her a liar just like they are doing here.
    I am calling foul. Realtors are paid to promote a property, not bash it (that is your job, oh kind readers). Call the property ugly, call it stinky, who cares. But, attacking the PERSON at the core of their integrity for doing the best that can be done when something is not perfect is unfair.
    I have seen some bad realtor tricks, but most of the time you all attack with incorrect info people who are innocent of what you are accusing who are not in a position to fight back because their livelihood is at stake.
    That is just week, cowardly, bullying and mean.
    Grow up.

  20. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Geto Verit wrote:

    I am calling foul. Realtors are paid to promote a property, not bash it (that is your job, oh kind readers). Call the property ugly, call it stinky, who cares.

    See, that’s where you’re wrong. Bashing isn’t a job, its a community service we provide completely without remuneration here on the comment threads of socketsite.

  21. Posted by sparky-b

    A.T.,
    Calling the kitchen “in need of updating” is saying it is a fixer. Besides wouldn’t the agent be a liar if they said that, since it doesn’t “need” to be updated. It works fine, someone would be happy in that kitchen.

  22. Posted by kthnxybe

    I agree with Tipster and Sparky-B. Jokes about real estate language are as old as humankind. “Charming” = run down shack, “vintage”=run down shack, “location, location, location” = run down shack with an asking price slightly higher than the GDP of most small nations, “needs updating” = complete tear down, “updated kitchen” = updated in 1971. No one is really fooled.

  23. Posted by diemos

    The most annoying thing about the lies are that they are so pointless. All the lie accomplishes is to get you to waste your time going out to the property to see for yourself what is actually there.
    It’s just the delusional hope on the part of the realtor that goes, “If I can just get them in the door maybe they’ll fall in love with it.”
    It’s a statement from realtor to potential buyer, “I value your time at zero compared to the slightest chance this might result in a sale.”

  24. Posted by steve

    Complaining that real estate agents are liars because they exaggerate is silly. Most of us have figured out by age 5 that advertising is a form of creative dissembling. Real estate sales just have a few wrinkles to the hyperbole.
    Price and location are what get most people to look at a property. I recall looking at a pair of flats in Noe Valley, on 23rd Street I believe, that had a price reduction of about $350K. The agent listed it so cheaply to get traffic and induce a bidding war. Was that price a lie? It was certainly a misstatement of the value of that property, and I am sure the sellers would not accept that price.

  25. Posted by upd8ed

    Listing descriptions are for entertainment only. In our household, we giggle as we read – there are some true comedic poets out there in real estate-land, like Shelley Trew. Read his descriptions, then visit the houses. Hilarious!

  26. Posted by El-D

    The most annoying thing about the lies are that they are so pointless. All the lie accomplishes is to get you to waste your time going out to the property to see for yourself what is actually there.
    DING DING DING!!! As usual, diemos gets it.
    I agree that nobody will be fooled by the language in the listing, but in the aggregate it results in lots of wasted time. IMHO, this is not much different than condo listings that indicate parking, but it turns out to be leased parking. Or those listings that first appear as SFHs but turn out to be condos. Just a waste of everyone’s time, to little benefit.

  27. Posted by tipster

    But it’s how the realtor gets the seller to face reality.
    If 3 people show up to the open house because the unit is overpriced, the owner will blame the realtor’s “poor marketing skills”.
    If 3000 people show up to the open house and no one makes an offer, it’s a pretty easy argument by the realtor that the place is overpriced.
    So the stretch the photos, lie about the amenities and take photos from odd angles, all to get people to show up. Even if they know it isn;t going to sell, it’s how you get the owner to agree its overpriced.
    Is the realtor using you like diemos says? Absolutely. Are you wasting your time? You bet. But it’s not pointless nor is it going to stop, because that’s how you deal with a greedy owner. Agree to list it for whatever the owner wants, deliver lots of people to the open house, and then hammer the owner to drop the price.
    It isn’t going to stop. If you want to be one of the people whose time is not wasted, you have to look very critically at the photos. Is the dishwasher large enough to drive a car through? Then the place is probably very small, and it’s probably not the only photo that has been photoshopped and cleverly stretched out of proportion in the least noticeable way possible.
    Look at the dining room chairs. Are they all the same size or are two of them wider. Then the photo was stretched just in that location to make it appear larger.
    Some agents NEVER do such things: I’ve never seen Paul Hwang distort anything, and my understanding is that he shoots pretty straight with the owners, because everybody trusts him. The owner might list high, but Paul is in no need to establish credibility with the owners by dragging people to an open house for a property they will never buy once they get there. They believe what he tells them. I’ve seen very few others like him.

  28. Posted by EsEfGerard

    Typical real estate agent vernacular. Always trying to make things sound better than they are.
    My guess is the original kitchen might look better than this 1970s redux.
    The fact is that this property will need an extensive renovation.It may be post lath & plaster but I doubt it has any insulation. Kitchen and baths will have to be blown up. windows replaced, new flooring, seismic work etc.
    Great location but 1.6m for a fixer is a little steep.
    I dont get the retro furniture? why not remove it? or was it staged?

  29. Posted by tc_sf

    “The most annoying thing about the lies are that they are so pointless. All the lie accomplishes is to get you to waste your time going out to the property to see for yourself what is actually there.

    As pointed out by tipster it’s the combination of excessive verbal license and heavily altered photos (or selective choice of which photos not to show) that makes this a real pain.
    If you could see an accurate picture it wouldn’t matter that much if a kitchen was described as “vintage” or “renaissance”. The act of manipulating both the text and photos more indicates deceptive intent then just mere literary license.

  30. Posted by anon$random

    Modern Queen? Try bitter queen. Christ, get a new hobby.

  31. Posted by hangemhi

    Realtors when representing a seller are marketing and advertising. Does Geico really have a talking Gecco? Progressive insurance “could” save you $500 or more. And believe it or not doesn’t actually have a white store with counting machines.
    I could provide a million examples – every ad everywhere uses word play and images to shine the best possible light on what they are selling. IS “updated kitchen” a lie? It is only if you believe ALL advertising is lying.
    Moderqueen – by your definition YOU are a liar by proclaiming that all Realtors lie. And what ladder am I going to fall off? I’m not on a ladder. No one reading your comment was on a ladder at the time. Why would you make such a false statement? Why are you lying?

  32. Posted by radar

    Your all liars……….
    you lie to your wife,….. ” I was NOT looking at that woman !”, Your children, ……” Mommy and Daddy were just wrestling honey “, your friends, ……..” You do NOT look fat in those jeans”. AND you lie to yourself,….” Hmm, I’m 50 but look 40 today ”
    Liars all of you ! Liar Liar pants on fire !

  33. Posted by BobN

    I don’t see the problem, at least not in this case. Realtors… uh… embellish. Don’t think he/she did in this case.
    That appears to me to be an updated kitchen. Warming drawer from the 50s? I don’t think so. And that can’t be the original stove top. Also, the vent hood looks pretty sleek.
    The cabinets look original and well made. I’d have kept ‘em, too.
    Anybody know what the two-door thingy on the backsplash is? Built-in breadbox?

  34. Posted by Been there

    “It isn’t going to stop. If you want to be one of the people whose time is not wasted, you have to look very critically at the photos. Is the dishwasher large enough to drive a car through? Then the place is probably very small, and it’s probably not the only photo that has been photoshopped and cleverly stretched out of proportion in the least noticeable way possible.
    Look at the dining room chairs. Are they all the same size or are two of them wider. Then the photo was stretched just in that location to make it appear larger.”
    Tipster: you have it backwards. These days software is used to correct all of those misshapen objects , not create them. That corrective software, like DXO optics, can be spendy and time consuming, so many photogs skip it. Wide angle lenses are a necessary evil to capture a room. Wide angles, like telephoto lenses, distort distances in objects, facial features, aeverything. In order to get an entire room in the shot , a photographer has to use a wide angle lens or too much gets cropped out of the shot. So these are results of photography, not orchestrated tricks.

  35. Posted by shza

    The most obviously “updated” part of that kitchen — the counter and backsplash — is easily the ugliest part.

  36. Posted by Jim T

    Actually the kitchen looks great as is, reminds me of the Graceland kitchen, and certainly better than the current stainless over-sized ugly monster stoves that are all the rage, which will most certainly get shoehorned into the kitchen when it actually is “updated.”

  37. Posted by [anon.ed]

    Nonsense. The appliances are clearly quote updated unquote. You’re all begrudging somebody for calling “updated appliances” an “updated kitchen.” Honestly, I understand/agree with the sentiment in general but this is a funny spot to jump off from.

  38. Posted by A.T.

    Maybe they are all liars, but here is something interesting. If you are buying, buy from a male agent for a cheaper deal. And if you are selling, hire a female agent for a higher price:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-want-a-woman-as-your-real-estate-agent-2011-10

  39. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Wide angle lenses are a necessary evil to capture a room.
    That’s BS. There’s no need to capture an entire room in a single photo. Just use more photos shot through a “normal” lens. People viewing the listing can easily piece together the photos in their mind, just as they do with photos taken of adjacent rooms.

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