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Skeletons in the closet: who’s at the open house?

Posted by Rona Fischman March 5, 2010 02:01 PM

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I walked into an open house a couple of weeks back, my clipboard in hand. It was a quiet one, so the agent noticed me. When she finished talking to a customer, I came in to introduce myself. She said something like, “with that clipboard, you look like some kind of spy.”

That got me thinking. What could I be spying on? Oh, yeah... Agents at open houses must have an agency disclosure card. What’s that? It is prominently displayed card required as a substitute for the Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure. In a couple of paragraphs, the card explains what the relationship between the seller and this agent is.
It can say:
1. the agent and everyone in the office works for the seller (single agency)
2. that the agent there works for the seller, but other agents in the office can work for buyers (designated agency)
3. or the agent there represents no one; he or she is acting as a facilitator at this house today (non-agent, facilitator.)

I haven’t been looking for these signs, until now!. Have you seen them?

The Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship disclosure is two page affair which tells consumers who the agent they are talking to represents and who everyone else in the office can represent. You all know I think this matters. This two-page form is not the clearest document on the planet. Let’s face it; it was written by committee.

The card is meant to streamline the information for consumers who meet an agent at an open house. Here’s what the law
says:

Nothing herein shall require written notice to each prospective purchaser or seller who comes to an open house showing of real property provided, however, the broker or salesperson, by sign, poster, distributed listing literature or property description form conspicuously discloses any pre-existing agency relationship. Where the listing literature or property description form is distributed at an open house the written disclosure of the agency relationship therein shall be more conspicuous than any other written material.

Testers come through to check on use of The Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship disclosure every once in a while. Agents fail to supply it in astounding numbers. (One test was 100 percent fail; some offices cried “foul” because it was in the promo packet. The second time, it was better -- with about one third complying with the law.)

Recently, a client of mine walked into an open house and met the listing agent. The buyer was introduced to the buyer agent on the listing agent’s team. I wonder which card was in the kitchen. She didn’t look… do you?

OK spies, here is your charge: When you go to open houses, check for the card. It should be prominently displayed near the sign-in sheet. Report back what you see. Keep it simple: “5 open houses, 3 cards.” I’m going to start counting, too. I’ll give you a periodic update…

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

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

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