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Real Estate

'Loose lips sink ships'

By - Last modified: December 6, 2012 at 9:08 AM

I recently heard a story told by a real estate agent about how some clients were looking to sell their property. A buyer was found, and an offer received that was somewhat less than the asking price.

All seemed well, except when the sellers went on a social media page for the buyers to check on them.

Turns out the buyer had been posting about the property and made comments to effect that "this is EXACTLY the property we were looking for! We'd have paid anything for it."

Needless to say, the offer on the table (which was close to be being accepted by the sellers) was politely pushed back across the table, and the sellers eventually got full price from the buyer.

The moral here is that, with the prevalence of social networks and the relative ease with which people can search for public statements, it's best to enforce a "loose lips sink ships" policy during a transaction to buy or sell real estate.

The agent I was talking to does, indeed, advise his clients to "shut up" on their social media sites and blogs and also makes a point of researching the other party in transactions he's involved in – and their agent, too.

This is not an isolated incident, either. I have seen or heard about similar issues surrounding major sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

I remember one time when I saw a friend on Facebook talking about a prospective sale of real estate only to have several "friends" comment that they were in a "rough neighborhood" anyway. I seem to recall (wish I'd screen-printed now!) that the seller even agreed with the friends' comments!

"Loose lips sink ships" is a reference to a World War II-era slogan used to encourage military workers to not discuss details with strangers here in the United States, due to the presence of enemy spies around the facilities. The slogan has stuck around because the principle is universal: Watch what you say, because people can listen in.

Jeff Geoghan is vice president of marketing and communications for Coldwell Banker Select Professionals and Select Services, based in Lancaster City, with 10 offices in eight Central Pennsylvania counties. Jeff lives in East Petersburg, where he also serves as mayor. Jeff has been actively involved in local government and business and has been used as a source by local, regional and national publications.

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