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Opinion Editorials

Should agents disclose to clients when they have lost their own home?

An industry secret

It’s considered hush hush, but many agents have lost their homes to foreclosure. This housing mess has affected everyone. Admit it or not, that includes us real estate agents. Realtors were not immune. Some of us speculated just as much as the banks and some of us got swept up in the dizzying ascent of the market. And frankly, some of us lost our shirts.

For those agents who have personally gone through foreclosure, do you tell clients, or do you sweep it under the rug? An agent’s own REO experience can be a blemish. People think “Wait, you’re supposed to be the real estate expert. How could this happen to you? Shouldn’t you know better? And if you couldn’t save your own house, what makes you think you can save my house?”

Painful, albeit valid, questions. Would you hire an electrician whose own sub-panel gets burnt to a crisp? A plumber whose own pipes explode? When we position ourselves as the authority on real estate, there is a certain expectation from consumers that we know what we are talking about. Our own real estate failings can discredit us.

The flip side of the coin

On the other hand, is it better to tell clients that you know first hand what they are going through? As prevalent as it is, foreclosure is still shameful and a seller may take solace that you can relate. A strong rapport helps, especially in distressed sales. Sometimes emotional support is more important to a client. Also having gone through the process yourself, you know the pitfalls to avoid. Sharing your past mistakes can help them navigate the rocky road ahead.

Do you think agents who have lost property in a foreclosure or a short sale ought to disclose this to clients? Are they more or less qualified to assist owners facing repossession?

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Written By

Watch Real Estate Expert Herman Chan put the REAL back in REALTY. In his show Habitat for Hermanity, Herman skewers the real estate business and pokes fun at his fellow agents, all the while empowering buyers & sellers with behind-the-scene tips & secrets of the industry! Get a glimpse beyond the glitz & glam of real estate. It's a hot mess! Featured on HGTV, House Hunters & other media outlets, Herman is the undisputed Real Estate Maven whose helpful & hilarious commentary you just can't live without! In fact, his real estate TV show has just been optioned in Hollywood!



  1. Rachel LaMar, J.D.

    October 22, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Honesty is always the best policy. We are also better educators because of our mistakes, so my answer is a resounding "yes."

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