How many hats does your Realtor wear? And how many hats does your Realtor disclose that they are wearing?
We represent a large number of buyers looking at condominiums for purchase. Similarly, we regularly go out on listing appointments for condominium sales.
Invariably, we run across an agent - either representing the seller or proposing to represent a new seller - who is a trustee of the condominium complex.
You've seen these agents - their names are plastered all over the MLS and the community poster boards as THE agent to go to to buy or sell a condominium in the building.
I've worked with many of these agents before. I've asked them "who do you really represent - your client or the condominium association?" Do these folks not understand that it is a conflict of interest for a trustee to show or sell property at their condominium complex? Same goes with the property manager who sells real estate.
Why it is a conflict of interest? Well, these folks know more about upcoming assessments, the financial status of the condominium association and other matters that are not public information.
So, if you buy a condominium that was listed by a condominium trustee, can you rely on their statements? Well, that's more of a legal question, but I for one would have a tough time answering a question about any upcoming assessments if I knew that they were being talked about, but it wasn't yet announced to the homeowners.
I've also seen instances where the listing agent, a trustee, pushes the management company to make repairs to a unit ahead of other exterior repairs. Is that fair and honest dealing?
All too many times, trustee relationships are not disclosed, which in my humble opinion is also wrong.
What can you do if you find out that your Realtor was wearing their Trustee hat at the same time as their Realtor hat? My best advise is to consult an attorney to see if any of the issues that you discovered after ownership should have been disclosed if the Trustee/Realtor knew about them, and be a proactive member of your homeowners association to urge a change in the bylaws to prohibit Trustees from selling real estate in the condominium complex.