Look who's talking about Richard's book...


“Given the price of real estate these days, this book could be worth more than your car. I wish I had read this book before I bought my first house.”


Real Estate Instructor

Nationally renowned

real estate trainer and motivational speaker



REM, Canada’s premier real estate magazine
Feature review by Barry Lebow, September 7, 2007

With a title like that I had to buy this book. Author Richard Courtney, a well-known and respected Realtor from Nashville, has produced an absolutely delightful book that is laced with wit and humour. Courtney takes a different approach as this book is for sellers, buyers and Realtors. Three approaches to the same problems and most of his writing focuses on good, common sense learned in the trenches of the real estate game.
The book pokes a lot of fun at misconceptions from the buyer’s viewpoint, from the seller’s viewpoint and of course from that of the Realtor. Although the book is American and has certain sections not relevant for us in Canada, it still provides your clients with good, sound advice on the process of buying and selling and best of all is in clear and precise language. Any party to a real estate deal will benefit by this book.
My biggest complaint? I didn’t write it. I just loved some of the humour, especially his knock-off about home inspectors based on the Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. It was a terrific piece.
Here’s a quote from the book: “Every generation thinks that it invented sex. The same is true of flipping houses. In most cases, the only thing flipped is the buyer’s net worth, often in the wrong direction.” Given my disdain for the current reality shows on flipping, his chapter on this subject was worth the read.
Overall, a good real estate book, one to be passed on to clients and customers, because the one common thing that seems to be missing today in real estate is common sense.


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REALTOR Magazine Online
April 2007

As emotions kick in, buyers and sellers often turn into their own worst enemy. Where does that leave you? In the middle, trying to sort out the half-truths and translate what your clients really mean. Veteran real estate broker Richard Courtney helps decode a language he calls “Buyerese” in his new book. Using a humorous approach, he uncovers the big “lies” of buying and selling a home from four perspectives: the buyer, the seller and the real estate agents who represent them.

AUTHOR Q&A: Richard Courtney Answers Your Questions
Richard Courtney, author of Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too!, responds to your questions about the halftruths and common misperceptions among buyers and sellers.

Q: Your book title uses the word "liars," which is pretty harsh. Do you really think buyers and sellers are liars?

A: The title Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! is tongue in cheek and a catchy title. However, the reason I wrote the book was after observing buyers and sellers alike bringing unnecessary anxiety into real estate transactions by over strategizing. They each thought the other to be dishonest. At that point I explained the languages of buyerese and sellerese — which is not to be mistaken for lying.

Q: Here’s a scenario: I listen to my buyers' needs, make a list of their must-haves, and then they turn around and buy (from someone else) a home that is so totally different. Any theories on what I’m doing wrong, and how I could have kept their business?

A: Hence the theory that “buyers are liars”. Buyers always think they know what they want, but seldom actually know what they want. You have to learn to translate buyerese, the language of buyers.

Q: What do you think is the biggest lie that buyers most often tell their real estate agents?

A: Again, I do not think buyers lie, I think they are not equipped with enough knowledge to make decisions — although they're quite certain they are. They will learn that they must compromise and prioritize. A buyer that is seeking a tricked out kitchen, an over-the-top master bedroom, a huge lot, and a three car garage may end up purchasing a home with only a two car garage or decent kitchen, but a great bedroom.

Q: What about sellers? What is the biggest lie they tell?

A: Sellers are the people time forgot, and they forget time. “How old is the HVAC?” I ask. They respond, “Why it’s brand new.” “Oh really," I inquire. “And how old is brand new?” They think a minute and tell me that they bought it the same year their daughter needed new braces and it was quite a financial burden. That begs the question: “How old is your daughter?” They respond that she just graduated from medical school. So, the "brand new" HVAC is 14 years old.

Q: How do you deal with consumers who are concerned about the housing market right now? How do you convince them that what they’re hearing in the media may not be a reality in their local market?

A: I refer them to David Lereah’s book All Real Estate is Local. For the first time in the nation’s history, there are markets with 180 degrees difference. Rates are low, job growth is rising, the stock market is sound, yet some markets are down and others very stable. I rely on statistics provided through the local associations for data to help guide buyers through their concerns.

Q: Was it hard to write a book from four different perspectives: buyer, seller, and the buyer's and seller's agents? How did you make sure you told each story correctly?

A: By the time the current version of the book was written, I had been personally involved in more than 1,000 transactions personally and managed hundreds of agents through thousands of their transactions. While each deal is different, the same issues seem to rear their ugly heads over and over. I tried to highlight the recurring issues, not the unique situations.

Q: How do you deal with FSBOs who think they don’t need an agent to sell their house?

A: FSBOs — or For Sale By Ogre — drive me crazy. As the old adage goes, anyone that represents themselves in a lawsuit has a bad attorney — so it goes for FSBOs. The first step I take is to neutralize the seller. There is usually an underlying scorn for real estate professionals in the mix, so I attempt to calm them early and let them know I anticipate this being a smooth, equitable, professional transaction.

Q: How can you persuade sellers to take a good offer when they get it, even if it comes in under the asking price — especially, as you point out in your book, considering that sellers usually assume that the first offer is just the start of negotiations?

A: On taking the first offer, I generally refer to the notes I take during the listing appointment when we discussed the pricing of the house and then I advise on any shifts in the market since that meeting. If the offer is too low, I do not advise them to take it, but I try to clear the offer of extraneous, unnecessary conditions and get it to the point where both sides are dealing with money. My secret weapon is that I give buyers and sellers a copy of the book before the journey so that they are equipped to meet the challenges that will befall them.


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iVillage Live
March 19, 2007

Richard Courtney appeared on iVillage Live and explained the trends of single women home buyers and offered insight to make the smartest and most financially beneficial decision.”  
See the clip here.


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CNN Open House
January 27, 2007 9:30 a.m. EST

HOST GERRI WILLIS: Lies, we all tell them. Well, I don't, but when it comes to buying or selling a home, let's just say the truth can really be stretched. Well, we've got a little cheat sheet today to help you keep from getting duped. Richard Courtney is author of "Buyers are Liars & Sellers are Too." Richard, good to see you. You say buyers and sellers just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

GUEST RICHARD COURTNEY: That's correct. That's why I wrote the book. After the first 200 or 300 transactions, I realized the same mistakes were being made over and over, as buyers and sellers alike try to over-strategize. And they try to see into the psychology of one another. And I wrote this to explain what people are really thinking on both sides of the deal. See the transcript here.


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Publishers Weekly: "easy-to-read reality check"

Courtney, a realtor with 26 years of experience and a weekly columnist for the Nashville City Paper, offers an easy-to-read reality check for anyone contemplating a real estate transaction. In addition to buyers and sellers, this includes real estate agents who must manage their clients' expectations and counteract the "lying" of all the parties involved. Where buyers are concerned, he argues that lying to a realtor about such issues as how much you like a prospective house is self-defeating.

Sellers, meanwhile, tend to be more delusional than untruthful about the attractiveness and value of their property. Courtney's chatty portrayal of both sides, along with the biases of their respective agents, provides a 360-degree view on topics ranging from open houses to credit scoring. While fairly evenhanded in his swipes at buyers and sellers, Courtney tends to portray realtors as superheroes who are overworked, very patient and only slightly prone to misstatements. In addition to dishing on the realities of residential transactions, Courtney is also realistic about foreclosures and flipping properties. Applying an insider's insights, he deflates the giddy fantasy of instant profit promised by so many other real estate books. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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Newsday: It's the home truth
Lisa Doll Bruno, May 19, 2006

Purpose: To lay out the home buying and selling process to all the players - buyers and sellers as well as buyers' agents and sellers' agents - while providing a glimpse into their psyches. (The author describes this as "knowledge you'll need to slay the beast.")

Author's credentials: Courtney is a 26-year real estate veteran who pens a weekly real estate column called "Realty Checks" for Nashville's City Paper.
Excerpt: "I couldn't help but notice that in case after case, sale after sale, transaction after transaction, the buyers and sellers were making the same mistakes, making the same erroneous assumptions, overcalculating and overstrategizing to the point that I became crazed working nights and weekends to the point that I was unable to view the seventh game of the 1991 World Series between my beloved Atlanta Braves and the Twins of Minnesota. It was then that I realized I needed to share my observations."

Effectiveness: In this forthcoming book, Courtney, an amusing chap, provides an entertaining yet informative guide on the how-tos of buying and selling. This is the second, more in-depth version of the original, self-published in 1992.
The book chronologically tracks the process, starting with what to look for in an agent and how to get the most out of one, because "they asked for it when they got into this crazy business." Subsequent chapters deal with the obvious issues, ranging from open houses, street (curb) appeal, inspectors and closings.
And then there's the not so obvious - such as "the Parent Trap" in Chapter 7, subtitled "Ma and Pa Meddle," which touches on well-intentioned parents who subconsciously or not - meddle.

Each chapter is laid out in an easy-to-read format, allowing you to jump around. Courtney begins by discussing the titled subject and proceeds to tailor it for each player under headings that include "If You're the Seller," "If You're the Buyer," "If You're the Buyer's Agent."

This format, which includes "hints," allows the buyer and seller to get into each other's worlds and gain some perspective. Each chapter concludes with a "Realty Check," additional nuggets such as title insurance and termite inspections.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.


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Tucson Citizen: "could have saved me about half a million dollars"
June 8, 2006

This book could have saved me about half a million dollars if I had read it five years ago instead of this summer.  Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions of your life and we need all of the help and advice we can get. This guide, written by a seasoned real estate veteran, explains how to deal with agents, banks, and movers, with a minimum of risk and pain.


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Sarasota Premier Magazine : Buying and selling homes is stressful...

Buying and selling homes is stressful, no matter what side of the door you’re on. In fact, anyone who has been through the process is likely to agree with motivational speaker Terry Watson, who in the title’s Foreword compares the stress associated with buying and selling a home to “the stress associated with the death of a loved one, planning a wedding or changing jobs.”  In this conversational, quick read, real estate veteran Richard Courtney outlines the home buying process from start to finish. Each chapter includes tips for the four key players in a real estate transaction: the buyer, buyer’s agent, seller and seller’s agent. A list of the “top ten lies in real estate” reveals common misconceptions, such as “the buyers loan is approved” and “advertising sell houses.”  First time buyers are sure to avoid common pitfalls if they heed Courtney’s advice, and those tempted to For Sale by “Ogre” (owner) are likely to reconsider after reading the chapter on non-agent listings.


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Detroit Free Press: 10 lies about buying, selling
July 14, 2006


Richard Courtney thinks everyone in real estate is just a bunch of liars.

He's entitled to an opinion on that topic; he's a Realtor. In his new book, "Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! The Truth about Buying or Selling your Home" (Fireside Books, $14), Courtney exposes all, even conceding that real estate agents, like eager sellers, have been known to misstate facts when trying to close a deal.


Courtney, a Nashville resident, gives readers a realistic and chronological idea of what it takes to buy or sell a house. He has tips for selecting an agent, improving a listing, making an offer and surviving an inspection. The veteran of 26 years in the business delivers the real estate information in a funny, sarcastic and irreverent approach. Still, I found him knowledgeable and his advice sound. And he's fun to read.


In his book, Courtney describes the top 10 lies in real estate:


10. The truth-in-lending statement reveals the loan's true interest rate. The truth-in-lending statement discloses the annual percentage rate (APR), usually higher than the interest rate. The APR can include fees such as discount points, origination fees and prepaid interest.


9. Buyers and sellers can expect counteroffers. Many deals come undone when a seller thinks the prospective buyer expects a counteroffer. If you receive an acceptable offer, accept it!


8. A clear termite letter guarantees no termites. Termite inspectors can only inspect what they can see -- and they can't see inside walls. Always assume that the house has termites and treat the house as soon as you buy it. The cost of treatment will save you a much greater cost if damage occurs.


7. You don't need your own real estate agent. Buyers should never listen to listing agents who say they can handle both ends of the deal. Every party needs their own representation.


6. The basement never leaks except in the case of a hard rain. If you buy a house with a basement that shows signs of leaking, it is going to keep leaking no matter the weather until you get it fixed.


5. The appraisal establishes the actual, definitive value of the house. The market, and the market alone, determines the value of a house. So when the market speaks, the appraiser should listen. If a house is under contract for $100,000 and the appraiser says it is not worth a penny over $95,000, get a second appraisal.


4. The buyer's loan is approved. Even if a buyer can produce a letter from a lending organization saying that their loan has been approved, they could derail the transaction by making choices that might affect their credit report right up to the closing. A seller shouldn't consider a buyer's loan approved until a check is in hand at closing.


3. Advertising sells homes. Advertising gives your house exposure, but no one has ever bought a house just by reading an ad.


2. All houses are priced 10% over the price the seller is willing to accept and there is always a cushion. Most houses are priced based on recent comparable sales. Overpricing a house can harm its chances of selling at a good price, therefore most houses are listed for the true market value of the home.


1. I can't afford that house. Yes you can. Read the book.


Or at least that's Courtney's take on things.


While Courtney may not be able to convince you that you can afford any house out there, his advice could help you get into -- or out of -- a piece of real estate.


Contact SUZETTE HACKNEY at 313-222-6614 or
Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.


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Play Philly : "So why are they selling?"
July 19, 2006


You tap on your chin, stare quizzically at the ceiling and blurt with seriousness: “So why are they selling?”


The seller’s realtor grins like a cat spotting a nearsighted pigeon. You’ve just revealed yourself a novice homebuyer. Real estate veteran Richard Courtney lists it as one of the Magnificent Seven, irrelevant questions most heard during open house Sundays.


“If you are in search of entertainment on a Sunday afternoon,” Courtney says, “consider a visit to an open house.”


The “Why are they selling…” query means nothing and should have no bearing on whether you should buy. Just like “Have they had it inspected?”

Who cares? You’ll have to have it inspected anyway.


And “How long has it been on the market?” Irrelevant. That’s more about buyer readiness than the price.


It’s why Courtney just updated Buyers are Liars & Sellers are Too! (Fireside), a cagey manual to guide the real estate novice through each phase of the buying process and expose the tiny deceptions… okay, lies… that can turn home-sweet-home into a money pit:


• The basement only leaks during a hard rain: If it leaks it will leak no matter how bad the storm. It must be fixed.


• A clear termite letter means no termites: Wrong. The house may lack the outward signs of those wood pests, but they may be in the walls feasting. Courtney’s advice: Treat the house for termites as a preventative. It’s cheaper in the long run.


• If the buyer’s loan is approved, it’s approved: Maybe. Unfortunately a buyer can make a number of bad decisions to wreck his or her credit rating. It’s not a wrap until the check is in your hand.


• You don’t need your own real estate agent: If someone says they can represent both sides, “walk away from this person,” Courtney says. “No agent can effectively handle both sides of the deal.”


• Houses are priced 10 percent above what the seller will accept: Most houses are priced in comparison to the recent sale of similar houses. “Overpricing a house can harm its chances of selling at a good price,” Courtney says. Most prices you see are a fair reflection of the market.


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Residential Specialist : A tongue-in-cheek approach to a good education.
Good Read -- Richard Courtney takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to a good education.
September/October 2006 by John Greenya


What do you know, a funny book about real estate! Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean funny as in ‘goofy,’ but funny as in ‘humorous.’ Richard Courtney, CRS, is one real estate professional (he is a certified real estate manger, brokerage manager and accredited buyer representative) who doesn’t think a book about the biz has to be dry as dust, full of charts and graphs and as serious as a Sunday sermon. He sees no reason not to entertain as he informs, and as a result he does both, and very well.


Fifteen years ago, when Courtney, who had 200 sales under his belt, noticed that both buyers and sellers kept on making the same mistakes, he sat down and wrote the original version of this book. Despite being self-published, it had fine sales and a long shelf life, with feedback coming from Europe, Africa and the Virgin Islands. Today, some 600 additional sales later, he decided that while prices had changed dramatically, the basic problems of buying and selling had remained the same. So, “I’ve updated, revised and expanded this book to make it as useful as possible, and Simon & Schuster has joined me in this latest effort to bring peace and harmony into the world of residential real estate.” I am glad he did, and I predict you will be too.


The author’s approach is most evident in his chapter titles, such as The REALTOR®: No Place for Barney Fife; The Offer: The Greedledees Meet the Greedledums; Non-Agent Listing: For Sale by Ogre (I mean, Owner); and The Parent Trap: Ma and Pa Meddle. The last one has my favorite introductory paragraph: “Before they finalize the purchase of their home, many buyers – especially first-time buyers – want their parents to inspect the property. The buyers have not heeded a word of advice from their parents since they were 11 years old, but now, following 20-odd years of arguments and disagreements, they want the folks to share in the biggest decision of their lives.” Can you relate?


One of the main reasons this book did so well in its earlier incarnation is because Richard Courtney knows that human emotion plays such a big part in the buying and selling of residential real estate. For example, he writes, “No matter how competent or experienced the agent, the seller is determined to bamboozle him. Caution, comparable-sales information, current market conditions and reason are thrown to the wind.” So throughout this book he suggests a series of reality checks for buyers, sellers, agents and anyone else in on the deal that will help common sense, if not prevail, then at least be a factor in the outcome.


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Tennessee Association of Realtors Digest
October 31, 2006

Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! That's the title of a book by Nashville REALTOR Richard Courtney that really SHOULD be on your night-stand and in your library!

It's easy to read and written with a sense of humor (Richard definitely has one!). But don't be mistaken; Richard's book is full of good, sensible advice and deserves to be taken seriously! It may be unique in that it repeatedly addresses FOUR different audiences - buyers, buyers' agents, sellers, and sellers' agents - with practical observations and guidance for each audience on many of the most common issues in buying or selling a home. That's quite a feat!

Pick up a copy for yourself!


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iBW: Stop the Lies!

It was once inBubbleGuy's job to do some repairs on a house before it went up for sale. Some painting, some drywall, he built a porch railing, replaced some floor boards, and changed out a bad faucet. But there were also some things he didn't/couldn't get to before the open house. So how do you think the owners dealt with this? iBGuy suggested distributing a "list of things that will be done before sale" to prospective buyers. But nooooo! They chose to coach the realtor and iBGuy on how to divert attention from defects like a hall ceiling that could come down at any minute, caused by a leaking air conditioning duct above. This is the kind of garbage and dishonesty that Richard Courtney has witnessed for 26 years as a realtor, which has led him to write the book Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too: The Truth About Buying or Selling Your Home.

What could be more important than the business of buying a home. It's not only an enormous financial decision, it's deeply emotional and usually the intended safe-haven for a budding family. It's important for everything possible to be perfect, or at least perfect given your circumstances. This is why it is extremely important for you all to read Courtney's book. He sorts through all the industry lingo and half-truths that usually occur during transactions, then translates the most common lies associated with the buying and selling process. He makes sure we all know what is REALLY being said.

You may think that playing down your interest in a particular property is beneficial. WRONG! It's self-defeating, and Mr. Courtney tells you why. He also tells potential sellers about how they tend to be delusional about the value and attractiveness of their property. It's all a bunch of phooey fo fum created by the intensity and pressure and risk spawned by the massive transaction.

You'll never guess the solution to a smooth real estate transaction. Go ahead, think about it for a few seconds. Are you ready? You sure? OK, the solution is, believe it or not, honesty. When a straight-forward buyer meets a straight-forward seller, transactions tend to be smoother, quicker, and both parties come out of the process feeling like they paid or sold at fair market price. Honesty, the cure for so many social diseases - the remedy for a great many tumultuous experiences.

June 2006,


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