Real Estate 101: The "u" and "r" of Buyer-Broker Agreements

Home Builder with Retired

Back in the 1960's I read Raise High The Roof Beams, Carpenters by J. D. Salinger. In the opening pages of the story Salinger retells an old Taoist tale that goes like this:

Duke Mu of Chin said to Po Lo: "You are now advanced in years. Is there any member of your family whom I could employ to look for horses in your stead?" Po Lo replied: "A good horse can be picked out by its general build and appearance. But the superlative horse - the one that raises no dust and leaves no tracks - is something evanescent and fleeting, elusive as thin air. The talents of my sons lie on a lower plane altogether; they can tell a good horse when they see one, but they cannot tell a superlative horse. I have a friend, however, one Chiu-fang Kao, a hawker of fuel and vegetables, who in things ppertaining to horsesis nowise my inferior. Pray see him."
Duke Mu did so, and subsequently dispatched him on the quest for a steed. Three months later, he returned with news that he had found one. "It is now in Shach'iu," he added. :What kind of horse is it?" asked the Duke, "Oh, it is a dun-colored mare," was the reply. However, someone being sent to fetch it, the animal turned out to be a coal black stallion! Much displeased, the Duke sent for Po Lo. "That friend of yours," he said, "whom I commissioned to look for a horse, has made a fine mess of it. Why, he cannot even distinguish a beast's color or sex! What on earth can he know about horses?" Po Lo heaved a sigh of satisfaction. "Has he really got as far as that?" he cried. " Ah, then he is worth ten thousand of me put together. There is no comparison between us. What Kao keeps in view is the spiritual mechanism. In making sure of the essential, he forgets the homely details; intent on the inward qualities, he loses sight of the external. He sees what he wants to see, and not what he does not want to see. He looks at the things he ought to look at, and neglects those that need not be looked at. So clever a judge of horses is Kao, that he has it in him to judge something better than horses."
When the horse arrived, it turned out indeed to be a superlative animal.

I recalled the story in the 1980's when I first began selling houses and noted the one letter difference in the two words. Over the years since then I've attended many training classes that seem to focus on how to be a successful real estate agent. Some of the early ones focused on selling techniques and closing maneuvers, but since the mid 1990's and the the advent of Buyer Broker Agreements there has been a shift and the emphasis is now on working with a Buyer in finding the best house possible for that person.

While state laws vary, in Washington, like many others, it is law, that a real estate broker give any new clients a copy of the laws governing that broker's actions. Here is Washington's Law of Agency.

ArabianhouseIf you (or "u" in today's texting short cut) are looking for the perfect horuse, be sure to add and "r" as in Realtor­® to your set of tools. Looking at pictures online, reading text on a flyer and even touring the property at an open house or with the listing broker are not guarantees that you're getting all of the insight necessary to make a wise decision. The first thing the wise shopper does is to interview brokers until one is found that you sense will be the Kao for you. And when you've found him, work with him to ensure that your real estate adventure is a success. Insist on a Buyer Broker Agreement that holds your agent of choice to work for your best interests.

Also published at Puget Sound Real Estate Professionals

Posted by





Glenn Roberts



Comments (20)

Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

"R" the hardest working letter in the alphabet. But watch our for the "p"'s and "q"'s. Don't mind them and oh oh. Have to do some heavy reading over the weekend! Thanks Glenn. Missed that one in lit class.

Jul 08, 2011 03:24 AM
Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

Glen, what a charming read and how very true!  And I liked Andrew's mind your p's and q's too... Buyer agency is a good thing even though I don't think it's completely understood by all.

Have a great week-end!


Jul 08, 2011 03:36 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Andrew - And Salinger is from the Northeast, too. Funny you missed him.

Pamela - It certainly seems hard to convince a home buyer that all agents are not just trying to sell them anything. Most of us these days are working to help them buy the best thing for them.

Jul 08, 2011 04:02 AM
Nevin Williams
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation - Cary, NC
Senior Mortgage Advisor

Glen - Well said from a true gentleman and professional agent  : )

Jul 08, 2011 05:14 PM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Nevin - Aw shucks.

Jul 09, 2011 08:39 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

That's a great read for a Sat. morning!  And an interesting perspective of "horse" and "house" -- quite astute!!  I have a similiar perspective of "own" and "on"  One letter changes whether we live 'on' the land, or 'own' the land!!  Your post made me remember my thought about the one letter that changes everything. 

Jul 16, 2011 05:53 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Richard - Thank you.

Carla - I like your own/on distinction. In a few years the current generation of renters will be asking begging for a chance at the w.

Jul 16, 2011 05:58 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Great read Glenn and I enjoyed all the comments too. 

Jul 26, 2011 05:42 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Loved this post, Glenn. Interesting what just one letter can do.

Happy Wednesday!

Aug 02, 2011 06:05 PM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE!

Fascinating little read - and interesting angle.  I totally believe in the Buyer-Broker agreement.  Agency is the first discussion an agent should have with their prospective clients.  A buyer-broker works ONLY in the best interest of their buyer-clients.

Aug 16, 2011 04:52 AM
First I would read any contracts I had siengd when hiring' my agent or the actual offer. Then I would ask for my money back immediately. If they can't or won't issue a check I would go to and file a complaint with the CA Dept. of Real Estate. They have zero tolerance with trust fund violations. If the owner rejected your offer, there was no deal for the buyer to back out of and the check should not have been cashed if they used a CAR offer form. I would ask my next agent if they are a REALTOR.
May 15, 2012 01:55 PM
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Jul 28, 2012 05:33 PM


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