If the law really prohibits this, the real estate industry's in trouble

Have I got a bond for you!

Have I got a bond for you!

And I suppose only the car industry will be left untouched - why is that? Government prosecutors retry bond trader for what his attorney claims was nothing more evil "than acting like a used-car salesman".

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The retrial of a former bond trader in a securities-fraud case that provoked changes to Wall Street sales tactics opened Thursday with the trader’s attorneys casting his techniques as no more manipulative—or harmful—than the fast-and-loose claims of a used-car salesman.
To federal prosecutors in the Connecticut U.S. attorney’s office, however, former Jefferies Group LLC bond trader Jesse Litvakbilked customers out of $2 million by inflating the prices he said he paid for residential mortgage-backed bonds, thereby causing hedge funds and professional investment managers to overpay for the bonds.
“Working it for you, bro,” an attorney for Mr. Litvak said to the jury during his opening remarks, reading from messages the attorney said Mr. Litvak sent while negotiating a trade. “I’m riding my seller like Seabiscuit,” the attorney, Dane Butswinkas, continued. “Winner, bro.”
In Mr. Butswinkas’s telling, the messages reflected tactics that verged on pathetic—attempts to hoodwink savvy institutional investors whose “special, secret, computer-driven” ways to calculate their desired prices always overrode whatever Mr. Litvak told them. 
Mr. Litvak’s techniques, Mr. Butswinkas said, were akin to those of “your local used-car salesman. The kind of statements we have learned—and these sophisticated investment companies have learned—to take with a grain of salt.”

Lying to a real estate client is prohibited, and it should be. Agents lying to other agents is standard operating procedure, though, and an agent who falls for it shouldn't be in the business. Are we all crooks? Absolutely not: if Joe Barbieri tells me something, for instance (and there are dozens of agents as honest as Joe, I've just always had solid experiences with him over the years, and I like him), I will believe it. Others though, not so much.

I had one deal going on some years ago where my buyer was holding firm to his offered price when I received a caller from the seller's agent: "Chris, Chris, I've got to tell you - {Agent X] is really pressuring me for that plot plan I loaned you, and his client's ready to buy, but I want to do this deal with you; you've got to get your client to come up another hundred thousand." "Well, [I'll leave her name out, but some will recognize the technique]", I replied, "I'll tell you what: if there's another buyer out there you'd better go with him, because we're holding fast here."

Literally one minute later my phone rang again and it was the same agent, who'd mistakenly redialed my number instead of her client's. "Bill, I never do this, but I just called Chris Fountain and told him we had anther buyer willing to pay more, but he still wouldn't go up. We need to take his offer before he goes away."

"[Name omitted], is that you?" I asked. "I think you hit the wrong number." She hung up without saying a word, and presumably called the right person, because she was soon back, telling me that our offer had been accepted. Even then, however, she couldn't let go of her imaginary second-buyer, bringing him up every time negotiations hit a snag. I was never rude enough to remind her that we'd established that there was no second buyer and she, pathological liar that she is, probably thought that there was. 

My point is that there are lots of people like that agent in this business, and even more of them in the financial industry - I know, because I represented defrauded investors for twenty years and met many of them. Wall Street has always used the "sophisticated investor" defense in claims involving its brokers, a defense that says, essentially, that anyone lucky enough to have some money to lose in the market is sophisticated enough to know she's being exposed to "mere puffery", and shouldn't believe a word her broker says. Kidder Peabody tried that on one of my clients, a 90-year-old widow whose late husband had handled the finances during a 60-year-mariage, and whose Kidder broker ran through a million dollars trading options and selling naked calls on her behalf. Kidder lost that case, but I don't see why the government should win this one. Bond traders are not little old ladies, and if they can't distinguish between a Joe Barbieri and a certain highly-successful lady agent we all know and adore, then let 'em suffer.