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Agency disclosure

Posted by Rona Fischman October 5, 2012 01:56 PM

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There has been a sea change in the way traditional real estate offices treat the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee Consumer Relationship Disclosure. (Generally called "Agency Disclosure Form.") I ran across the change, twice, in the past week.

Here's the change: Larger, designated agency firms have been asking me and my agents to send a copy of the Agency Disclosure Form. I find this a curious practice. Why does the other company care if my agents are doing the right thing? My agents work under my license and I am responsible if they do not provide required disclosures. However, it is no breach of confidential information for us to comply with the listing agent's request, so we have been sending them when we are asked.

Recently, two of my agents did not send the form with the offer, and they were not asked for it during the transaction. It was only when the listing agents reviewed their final file, did the agents notice that the Agency Disclosure form was not there. As the broker -- and the person who was by the phone that day -- I got the calls: "Can you send me the Agency Disclosure Form, your agent didnít send it with the offer." So, I asked the agent why their company needs proof that my company is doing the right thing. She (she's an agent, not a broker) said it was because the auditors are requiring proof that all parties have the opportunity for representation.

The problem is that this way of checking for compliance with the disclosure law does not prove that the disclosure was presented at the first face-to-face meeting to discuss property. I would expect that far-too-many of these forms are dated the day of the offer. Did you see this form at your first meeting with an agent? Historically, compliance with this law has been miserable.

I have a track record of discussing agency. But, when I looked back on my writing, I saw that I haven't posted about it lately. I wrote about the Agency Disclosure. I included designated and dual agency on my list of what's wrong with real estate in my recap of 2008. I explained what to look out for in dual agency. I also mentioned the poor rate of compliance to the regulations. I gave an example of where agents claimed they were buyer agents in a questionable situation, and why consumers need to beware. I explained the nuts and bolts of maintaining a fiduciary model. Sam Schneiderman also posted on what consumers need to understand about dual and designated agency. Not once, but twice.

As an exclusive buyer's agent, I do take agency seriously. If you have questions about how the law ought to work, you can ask below or email me.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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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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