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The feds are cracking down on agents and builders for deceptive ads

How many times have I seen advertising claiming no down payment, lowest rates around, on and on. No indication of any conditions or fees. The feds are looking at these advertisements. And they should! The most alarming thing? Many of these ads are geared toward the military and the elderly.

I remember one time a consumer calling on an advertisement in a real estate circular. The home had already sold, and the person was irate at best. I tried to explain that print media has a short shelf life plus a long lead time. Forget that, the person felt that most print advertising for real estate was "bait and switch". We have never practiced bait and switch, but I have seen it.

Janna Rankin Scharf has brought this important information to our attention in her post below.

Consumer bewareI just read an interesting and alarming article in Inman News.  Federal regulators have been sending out warnings to real estate agents, builders and lead generators, stating that their advertising might be deceptive.

They are referring to advertising on websites, direct mail, Facebook and in newspapers.  The questionable ads refer to financing, loan guarantees and interest rates.  It's been a while since I've seen this topic come up so I read through the article to see what was happening.

I have to say, I was dismayed to see that veterans and elderly appear to be a particular target for misleading ads.

Consumers, as always, beware.

The FTC examined 800 ads and found troubling claims that could be misleading to consumers:


  • Ads that offered a very low fixed mortgage rate without discussing significant loan terms.
  • Ads containing statements, images, symbols and abbreviations suggesting that an advertiser is affiliated with a government agency.
  • Ads "guaranteeing" approval and offering low monthly payments without discussing "significant conditions" on these offers. 

This is also a very good refresher course for all of us in the industry.  Shame on those who use these deceptive ads to prey on the vulnerable among us.  The rest of us need to make sure we are not violating regulations simply because we don't know any better.

Read the Inman News article and see sample deceptive ads here.

Janna SignJanna Rankin Scharf  provides a superior level of real estate services to home buyers and sellers in Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai County, Idaho. Visit to search for homes in the Coeur d'Alene MLS for anywhere in spectacular North Idaho.

No matter how grand or modest your real estate dreams may be, you can turn to me in confidence.  Give me a call today and let me know what I can do to be of service to you!

Janna Rankin Scharf AB, GRI, CSP, CNS, CLHMS  208.651.9700


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Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate

2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors

2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor


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© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017

 Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain

Comment balloon 8 commentsAndrea Swiedler • November 26 2012 05:48AM


I always say beware!  What is in print isn't always true as this post so aptly notes!

Posted by Larry Bettag, Vice-President of National Production (Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001) about 6 years ago

I am glad that they are cracking down on this as they should.  These guys should be fined as well when they violate this rule.

Posted by Paula McDonald, Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Magnolia Realty ~ Granbury) about 6 years ago

Interesting reblog I don't advertise like this but good to be aware

Posted by Hannah Williams, Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818 (Re/Max Eastern inc.) about 6 years ago

Andrea excellent reblog.  Bottom feeders pop up all the time.  I do see this happening to the elderly here in AZ and it bothers me - a lot. They go after the ones they think they can snow over.  I say get them all and make them have some consequences for their deceptive practices.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) about 6 years ago

A crack down is needed in our area too Andrea. Some advertising is really sad. We get many calls from potential buyers wanting to know where a property is that they found on the internet. Unfortunately they are looking at four year old prices!

Posted by Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers, Our Family Wants To Help Your Family! (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 6 years ago

Andrea I hope that it is true that they are cracking down on this stuff, because they is way to much abuse.  The rules are in place but I have seen very little in terms of enforcement.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) about 6 years ago

I think we have all gotten calls about properties that sold many years ago. I am not sure how that can be corrected. Even though I always update my MLS with the new status, the original ads remain out there. Once they are sent out by IDX, they are no longer in the control of the original agent.

Preying on any group of people is no way to create a business model--that sort of behavior should punished.

Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) about 6 years ago

Thank you everyone, Janna did a good job getting the word out. This is totally unacceptable behavior.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 6 years ago