The Real Deal New York

Fraudulent “ghost” listings said to be on the rise

Inventory shortage, increased direct communication via websites to blame, brokers say
March 28, 2014 04:00PM

Home seekers in New York City are growing wary of “ghost” listings used to lure in buyers.

In the past, agents have been known to use old or fabricated listings on brokerage websites as a ruse to get buyers on the phone — brokers would then say the home had sold and immediately pitch another property, usually less appealing. But the incidence is reportedly on the rise, reportedly because of a shortage of properties to market or increased direct communication between buyers and brokers via websites.

Although the Real Estate Board of New York has rules against such bait-and-switch tactics, brokers are rarely fined for it, city officials told the New York Times. And because there is no single official tasked with weeding out fraudulent listings, and the board relies primarily on complaints from its members, the paper reported.

“You can call and complain,” Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty and and a real estate board member, told the Times. “But there is really no police force, so the consumer is poorly served.”

Ghost listings are more commonly found in marketing for new developments, or in areas where brokers work solo, like Brooklyn, the Times reported. The ploy is also commonly used on Craigslist or brokerage sites than listing sites like StreetEasy, where brokers tend to quickly update information on sold listings. [NYT]Angela Hunt

  • Charlotte Friedman

    REBNY stopped policing the ethics long ago, when they took on all the mom and pop brokerage firms who would not join because they could not compete with the big boys, and were not going to adhere to all the REBNY rules. It changed the playing field complacently. The the nice respectful mostly clean cut industry changed.

  • Rebecca Knaster

    Yes, I know of one ghost listing that has been around for a few years. It’s the agents own apartment.The particular agent does not have pictures of the apt on line since it is in deplorable condition, or ever shown it as well, Has never returned another agents call but continues to list it hoping, praying she may get a customer out it. Unethical and professional

  • JR


  • Not only it hurts a single agent, it hurts the industry. Let’s play fair.

  • broker

    I have requested 15 appointments two weeks ago, 8 brokers told me that their apartment was “gone”, but it was still active. Two weeks later I wrote them again since the apartment is still listed as active, but I had the same answer. Big Companies. It’s a total waste of time for everybody, I complained but they basically said that they can do all the want, it’s legal and I have to look at apartments with OH. I have never seen this before, I guess that 30-40% of the apartments are in reality ghost listings.