As a real estate agent for over a decade and another dozen plus years of online real estate experience I can speak from my own experience and say “It’s a little bit of both”
Buyers are people and people will generally provide information that puts them in the best light possible. I don’t believe most people intentionally lie. They just say things that happen to pop out of their mouths at the time. Questions that very often are not honestly answered honestly are normally questions that people feel will negatively affect the way they are perceived by the questioner or make them feel that they are being exposed to potential disapproval on a human level. “How is your credit?” is one of the classic mis-answered questions that people very often respond to with a degree of gloss.
Personal rules of thumb:
If a real estate lead says their credit is “Excellent” it probably is very good or even excellent.
If a real estate lead says their credit is “Good” it could go either way so we can’t discount them.
If a real estate lead says their credit is “Poor” or has “Some Issues” it could go two different directions in roughly equal proportions. Either they have horrid credit and will need a co-buyer/cosigner or get put on a track to correct it or just as likely they just don’t know what their credit score is. And then many that may know may not know what is a good score and what is a bad score. It may come as a surprise but many people think that if they paid a late electricity bill in 1998 they have ruined their credit for life. These people avoid their credit as much as possible, which can often be a good thing.
I was in my bankers office the other day and she said something that surprised me even though I had heard it before. She said that the worst credit scores she sees are Doctors and Lawyers. Meanwhile we think that this would not be the case but it proves once again that you cannot judge a book by its cover.
In closing, for most people credit ratings and how they are adversely effected or positively impacted are too confusing to truly comprehend and therefore they answer questions relating to credit, income and other personal information with what they think, may be, potentially won’t make feel bad about themselves. This does not make them liars it just makes them human.