Conflict of Interest.........

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with The Home Buyers Dream Catcher

Recently I was working with a buyer, while riding too our next showing appointment, in conversation she disclosed to me that her last purchase (which was years ago), was a new construction home and it was never disclosed too her that the real estate agent representing her was also the spouse of the builder, until they were sitting at the closing table and documents were being signed.  So this time she intentionally searched out a Buyers agent, then came across my advertisement for Exclusive Buyers Agency.  She felt that years ago when this happened too her it was because of the "times", she was wondering if this still happens and why aren't real estate agents required to tell buyers about this conflict of interest.

What if a buyer bought a property and later discovered that the real estate agent representing them were indeed the spouse of the builder?  Many times in this area there are new construction subdivisions where the listing agent is indeed the spouse of the builder.  But there are also other forms of kinship and/or different types of friendships / partnerships that should be disclosed.  If at anytime the real estate agent benefits from the sale of a property, with the exception of the real estate fees received, it is in my opinion a conflict of interest.  There is a definite feeling of betrayal by the buyer when this is not disclosed too them.  "Why does the real estate agent not disclose this?" my buyer asked me, I had no answer.  I myself do not understand why or how a real estate professional feels it's not their obligation to disclose these relationships to buyers, but it happens, still to this day. 

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We are required to disclose that we are "Louisiana Licensed Real Estate Agents" on contracts / documentation when we sell one of our own properties.  I've heard many stories from buyers that bought properties and the agent did not do this.  There is a reason for everything, the reason that we must disclose this is because we are professionals and we have more knowledge / education about real estate  than the general public, therefore the buyer must be made aware of this fact before any negotiations take place on a property owned by a licensed real estate agent.  Many agents get away with not doing this, due too one reason or another.  All advertisements, signs must also disclose that the owner is a licensed agent.  But what of the agents that have no legal claim to the property, meaning the spouse owns it solely in their name, must they disclose to the general public, they do not actually own it, right?  The answer is YES, they are still required to disclose that the owner is a licensed agent.  That agent will be benefiting from that sale no matter if the agent's name is not actually on the title.  Basically if it's the same household funds, the profit is shared therefore the agent has something more too gain from the sale than a regular real estate transaction.  

My advice too all buyers is ask the question.  When you decide to purchase a property, just ask the real estate agent if the sale in any way benefits them, of course excluding the real estate fees.  You will not be surprised later if you find out that the real estate agent that was representing you was also related too, married too, living with the seller, etc.  Ask the questions of not just the listing agents / dual agents, also ask buyer agents.  Like myself, I'm an Exclusive Buyer Agent, I never list properties, but that's not to say that  a listing that I show to a buyer is not owned by my sister, brother, mother, aunt, etc.  Now the profit from the sale does not go too my household, but it could cause a buyer too feel that there is a conflict of interest.   I've been in the situation and I told the buyer, before showing them the property, that my brother owns that house.  The buyer has the right to be supplied with the information to make an informed decision to either view it, not view it,  or have the broker designate another agent for that particular house, it's the buyers choice.  It's the real estate agents obligation to inform the buyer of any instance where the buyer would feel betrayed or lied too because the agent failed to disclose some non-professional relationship that exists between themselves and the seller. 

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