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What You Should Know About Puffing in Real Estate

By Jamie Richardson | October 6, 2023

Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or an eager seller, there's a quirky term you should understand in the world of real estate. Puffing is a tactic that is used, usually by sellers and realtors, to hype up a property. The term may sound like a cute animated character, but make no mistake that it does play a role in almost every real estate transaction.

What Exactly is Puffing, Anyway?

Puffing is like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae. It's the use of exaggerated statements about a property that sellers or agents toss into the mix when describing a house. This legal tactic is used to make a property seem more appealing than it may actually be. Think about phrases like, "You won't find a better neighborhood," or "This home is a paradise on Earth." While these statements inject a dose of enthusiasm, they're not quantifiable facts. They're more like subjective interpretations.

Legal or Not? Let's Clear That Up

Is puffing in real estate legal? In most cases, yes. However, there’s a caveat. Puffing is a slightly grey area. It’s usually allowed because it's categorized as "sales talk" or "seller's opinion." The general notion is that any average, reasonable person wouldn't interpret puffery as an indisputable fact. However, there's a thin but very crucial line between puffing and lying. For example, saying a home is in "perfect condition" when it has major structural issues is misleading. Doing this could land you in legal hot water. 

Why Should You Even Care About Puffing?

Why does puffing matter in the grand scheme of real estate? Words wield incredible power in real estate listings! Whether you're buying or selling, having a good grasp on puffing can help you negotiate, make informed choices, and avoid legal situations.

For Buyers

If you're a buyer, you should take any puffed-up statements with a grain of salt. Always conduct thorough research and due diligence before committing to anything. If a claim sounds too spectacular, ask for evidence or more details. This level of caution will help you dodge the bullet of overpaying. You don’t want to get in over your head when buying a house because you thought it was better than it actually is.

For Sellers

It's natural to want to present your property in the best possible light as a seller. However, remember to exercise restraint. While some level of puffing is often tolerated and even expected, exaggerating too much can lead to issues. Your listing can lose credibility. If lies come into play there could even be legal complications. Stick to being honest, transparent, and factual. Integrity tends to resonate more with buyers and creates a smoother transaction process for both parties.

The Murkiness of Misrepresentation

Puffing takes a darker turn when it morphs into intentional misrepresentation. If a seller or an agent knowingly makes false claims or hides defects, that's not just exaggerated marketing. At this point, it could be considered fraud. Such deceit can result in a range of unpleasant outcomes.

For example, if puffing goes too far, the buyer could pull out of the deal. Additionally, someone involved could demand financial compensation or even pursue legal action. Overall, you want to avoid major misrepresentation when listing a property.

Be Informed and Be Cautious

Puffing is an inescapable part of the real estate landscape. Whether you support this tactic or not, real estate professionals and sellers will continue to use words to their advantage when describing their properties. Being informed about puffing allows you to play the game smarter. Take nothing at face value and ask probing questions. If something feels off, consult with professionals. Because whether you're buying your dream home or selling a cherished property, knowledge is your best ally.

Jamie is a 5-year freelance writer who enjoys real estate. He is currently a Realty Biz News Contributor.
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