Buyers beware indeed. When buying insurance, a car, or a home feeling a little bit like Antonio listening to Shylock sharpen his blades is not uncommon.
Translation: We're being deceived and ripped off, one way or another, in just about every commercial transaction we make. And when it comes to homes, cars, insurance, we're being ripped off by the thousands.
Of course, this is one of the many ugly side effects of capitalism, so it's certainly not a problem limited only to Puerto Rico.
Yet the fact is, this entire entry is inspired by one Cabo Rojo real estate agent's disgusting remark.
My source (someone about to list their home on the market) told me about the comment, but refused to give me the name and company affiliation of the agent. They knew it would be published right here - as it should be.
What did the agent say?
To recap, he asked the home owner NOT to tell him of any issues with the house. He explained that if he were notified, he has a legal obligation to inform any prospective buyers. By having the home owner stay quiet, he can sell the home without letting the new buyers know. Fleeced.
This guy is an idiot and a crook - but he's not alone. Real estate agents want to maximize the selling price (to max out their commission) and they want to move the property quickly. They don't want to waste their time answering calls and arriving to do showings. They want to get paid off asap. That's why they'll do a quick comparative sales analysis and try to push you into a selling price that will move quickly on the market - not to maximize your potential returns on what is probably your most significant lifetime investment.
So home buyers, listen up. Chances are you are going to be dealing with self-motivated agents, willing to make unethical (and sometimes illegal) judgement calls to push the sale. They study how to look polished, professional, and build a rapport with you. Don't be fooled. It's a sales process and you are the target. Wouldn't you get nicely dressed up, groomed, and speak nicely to someone for an hour to get $5,000 to $20,000 for doing so? They certainly do.
Solution: By the time you are ready to buy a home, hire a professional to come in and really evaluate it. Check everything.
Make sure you are aware of every potential issue before closing the deal. The agents are in no hurry at disclose to you anything that isn't immediately obvious. If you detect it yourself, they'll most likely play dumb and stall... I.e. they'll tell you they did not know there was a problem and they have to notify the home owner to have it corrected.
Don't let some smooth talking or a warm handshake hypnotize you into thinking this person represents your interests.
There is at least one rogue real estate agent in Cabo Rojo confirmed. But we all know more of these predators are out there.