National Association of Realtors President Ron Phipps says NBC’s "Today" show unfairly disparaged Realtors and misled viewers in a segment that aired this week.
The segment, "House Hunting? Don’t Fall for These Tricks," began with a discussion of the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which showed home prices "double dipping" in the first quarter.
"Today" show host Matt Lauer then launched into a discussion with former broker Barbara Corcoran about how information submitted by real estate agents in marketing a home in the multiple listing service (MLS) may be misleading to consumers.
Corcoran said buyers should ask their agent if a home’s listing price was its original asking price, and whether it’s recently been relisted. Corcoran said that while most Realtors are honest, MLSs often don’t provide such information on a listing’s history to consumers.
(Password-protected Virtual Office Websites, or VOWs, operated by technology-based brokerages like ZipRealty and Redfin reveal such details where MLS rules permit.)
Corcoran and Lauer also discussed the accuracy of square footage estimates provided in listings, noting that such figures may be rounded up. The inclusion of a finished basement might give a buyer unrealistic expectations about the actual living area, Corcoran said, and she advised buyers to consult tax records for accurate information.
Buyers may also misperceive the size of a home’s rooms when listing photos are taken with wide-angle lenses, Corcoran said, and listing photos may also be edited to remove powerlines or neighboring homes.
The segment concluded with a list of the "Most misleading words in real estate," which advised that a term like "original condition" may really mean that a home’s appliances "are 50 years old."
"Conveniently located" may actually mean "noisy," Corcoran said, and an "efficient kitchen" may actually be "too small to fit two adults."
If a listing describes a property with "usable land," it may just have no trees, and a home that’s "just available" may be on the market because the "previous owner just died on the premises."
In an e-mail to the "Today" show’s producers, Phipps said "the entire segment seemed sensationalist and slanted — rather than give buyers truly helpful tips and advice, you preferred to plant suspicions and spread misinformation."
As a working Realtor and president of NAR, Phipps offered to appear on the "Today" show "to share insights into what’s really happening in today’s real estate market and provide information your viewers can truly use when buying or selling a home. No ‘tricks,’ just the facts."