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Economist Bill doesn't get it

Posted by Rona Fischman March 26, 2009 03:12 PM

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Economist Bill wrote:

One could argue that it should be a violation of the Realtors Code of Ethics for any Realtor to take on an overpriced listing, knowing full well that it will not sell unless the price substantially lowered.

I have seen a number of homes where the Listing Agent sold the home to the Buyer and acted as a dual agent. No one can ethically represent both sides of a transaction of this magnitude, having inside knowledge of both parties. Lawyers canít represent both parties in a law suit, so why should Realtors be able to do it? Any comments?

Thank you Bill. You bring up two important points. However, weíre not talking ethics here, weíre talking law. There are thousands of licensed agents out there that are not Realtors. All licensees are all bound by the law.

The sellerís agentís job is clearly defined on the back of the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure.

The agent must put the seller's interests first and negotiate for the best price and terms for their client, the seller.

I agree with Economist Bill. Agents who take an intentionally overpriced listing are not looking to get the best price for their client. I will remind you that the sellers have free will, which cuts both ways. Some sellers are flattered by such agents and accept the inflated price. Some sellers are told a real price, but insist on marketing their home for an inflated price in order to ďtest the market.Ē

The second issue, that of dual agency, is commonly misunderstood. Economist Bill doesnít get it. Dual agency equals no agency. A dual agent is supposed to be a neutral party. The disclosure reads:

A dual agent shall be neutral with regard to any conflicting interest of the seller and buyer. Consequently a dual agent cannot satisfy fully the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, obedience to lawful instructions which is required of an exclusive seller or buyer agent. A dual agent does, however, still owe a duty of confidentiality of material information and accounting for funds.

A dual agent cannot legally work with a consumer without first getting that consumerís written consent. The relationship disclosure reads:

A real estate agent may act as a dual agent representing both the seller and buyer in a transaction but only with the express and informed consent of both the seller and buyer. Written consent to dual agency must be obtained by the real estate agent prior to the execution of an offer to purchase a specific property.

Bill, if you consented to dual agency, you got what you asked for. If you didnít see the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure, thereís a license you can complain about. You also have a complaint if someone worked with you as a dual agent without your consent. You can use this complaint form.

Anyone working with a licensed real estate agent should see Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure form before talking about any property. The form makes it clear when a consumer should be seeing this:

All real estate licensees must present this form to you at the first personal meeting with you to discuss a specific property.

If you arenít seeing it, run for the hills. If you see it, and sign it without reading it; donít blame the agent.

Did you see this form? Did you read it? Do you still have questions?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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