Beware of Gimmicks

snake oil salesmen

Snake Oil Salesmen…

“If I can’t sell your home I’ll buy it”

“Your home sold in under 60 days or I’ll give you $1000 CASH”

“You’re approved regardless of credit”

“Your home sold in 45 days guaranteed”

Since the beginning of time snake oil salesmen have preyed, using their concoction of colored water and cooking oils with claims they possess the power to cure, the power to clean, or the power of hope. After all , isn’t everyone searching for that magic elixir. The fountain of youth, or that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The question we should be asking ourselves is not why these scoundrels seek out the weak or uninformed with their empty promises of hope. Rather, the question should be…Why do we as a society allow these unscrupulous characters to roam the streets in search of their next victim? But are they victims? Maybe, if one person is helped by the power of hope, then we can make the case that the magical concoction works. Maybe if a formerly impenetrable stain is removed by the bottled liquid the consumer is not a victim.

With the passing of time comes changes in the manner by which societies view any particular behavior. Whether it be public, private, or professional. In a democratically elected society, the public makes distinctions between activities and actions and whether they are to be considered acceptable. Lawmakers derive their motivation based on public support for any issue involving the safety and well being of their constituents, and as a result, many un-acceptable behaviors of yesterday are acceptable today. The opposite holds true as well.

The snake oils salesman’s horse drawn wagon of deception has evolved into the flashy foreign sports car that carries him or her into crowded neighborhoods of frolicking kids and unsuspecting parents. The elixir of hope once contained in a bottle and paraded around middle America is now presented in the form of empty promise and guarantees that do not exist or were never intended to be fulfilled.

Although some programs are legitimate, many could be considered Fraud. Fact is, these offers are nothing more than a deceptive means of getting you to call the snake oil salesman and buy a bottle of stain remover. Or at least give the salesman the opportunity to show how wonderful the bottle of colored water really is.

Remember the Ole adage ” if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is”. That Ole adage rings true today as much, if not more than any time in the past. The only difference is, the snake oil salesman of today are camouflaged behind expensive fancy suits and flashy foreign sports cars.

If you are considering one of these gimmicks, think long and hard. Get the guarantee in writing and understand the fine print and hold the promisor legally accountable to perform. Nobody will buy your home unless there is something to gain for them. Nobody will give you money if your home doesn’t sell unless there is a catch. Banks will not give you a loan if you cannot perform or are unqualified.

Beware! That bottle of elixir may work fine on shallow surface stains, but when dealing with the complexities of the real estate market there’s no match for good old fashion elbow grease and honesty.


Appraisals and Inspections… They are opinion. That’s right OPINION! An appraisal is an opinion of value and a inspection is a opinion of condition. Both can potentially have profound implications to a transaction but neither is a serious area of concern when handled properly.

Appraisal: Negative impacts of appraisal opinions are generally low valuations and repairs. Low valuations are generally based on a lack of supporting data for the subject property but are less likely to cause a problem when the subject property is priced properly. Proper listing information also helps to illuminate certain characteristic of the subject property that can be missed by an appraiser. Another very important issue is condition. It affects perception. Make sure the sellers repair any defective items, paint areas of concern, and clean the house before it’s listed. Avoiding a low appraisal is the best defense against one because once the appraisal comes in low. Options are limited. Find more information here at the Appraisal Foundation.

Inspections: The negative impact of findings in a home inspection could be the seller has no money to make repairs, the buyer may choose to terminate the transaction, the seller may be forced to make false or inaccurate legal disclosures based on State Statutes while the items contained in the inspection may not be of concern whatsoever.

Buyers should be made aware prior to writing a purchase agreement that the seller is not required to make repairs as a result of their inspection. They should be prepared to renegotiate terms as a result of the report and they should not be fieghtened by a buyers agent or inspector about items that can be fixed.

Then you have the times when a home inspector is flat out wrong; REAL Example. A home inspection of a rambler (one level home) revealed that the crawl space access area “must” be 24″X36″ (or some figure close to that) but the opening was only 24″X30″. In his report, the inspector insisted that the opening “must” be brought up to code. The buyers panicked, the sellers said NO WAY but we were able to quickly provide a second opinion from the County before the buyer terminated. The transaction was saved.

Another REAL Example. Couple years ago an inspector called for an engineering report because the manufactured home wasn’t installed properly. “Lack of Tie Downs he noted”. What he failed to realize is that I was there the entire time and never seen him go into the crawl space because he was too large to fit. I also had the sellers engineering report from when they bought the home proving he was wrong. The underwriter agreed and lifted the restriction.

I have had many similar experiences.

The bottom line is once a buyer has decided to buy a house there are few reasons why they should not pursue every option available to consummate the sale. Few items are insurmountable, few objections too overwhelming and “opinions” are just that, opinions.