Fraudulent “ghost” listings said to be on the rise

Inventory shortage, increased direct communication via websites to blame, brokers say

Are "ghost" listings on the rise?
Are "ghost" listings on the rise?

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.

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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