Once upon a time, Bobby the Buyer was interested in purchasing an investment rental property. He saw a multi-family building that was listed online with no pictures other than an outside shot, and he decided to contact a local real estate agent to see if he could get more information.
So Bobby called Roxanne the Realtor to see if he could get some assistance. He indicated he would love to know what the property really looked like, and would there be any chance Roxanne could provide more information? Roxanne planned to set up a meeting to discuss Bobby's needs in more detail before doing too much research, but she realized she would be driving by the property in question the next day anyway, so it wouldn't take too much extra work to check it out herself. She made a confirmed appointment to preview and take photos of the place in question, and off she went camera in hand.
After a tour of the property, and the collection of additional photos, Roxanne shared her thoughts and pictures with Bobby. Bobby in turn was quite appreciative, thanking Roxanne for her diligence and time, and asking if he could see the place himself.
So one fine morning, Roxanne met Bobby and his wife for an in-depth look-see of the property. Bobby was quite impressed and decided this was the right place for him to start investing in this town. Market analysis was discussed, agreements were signed, an offer price was decided upon, and hands were shaken. And during this discussion period, Bobby looked Roxanne in the eye and said, "I want you to know that in addition to being an attorney, I am a non-practicing but licensed real estate agent and I want you to know I know all about fiduciary responsibilities and I commit that this will be a fiduciary relationship."
An aside to those who may not know what a real estate agent's fidiciary responsibilities are, the short explanation is that it represents an ethical relationship of trust with the person they are working with. It includes things like maintaining confidences, and being loyal. It's a big deal and is part of every excellent agent's credo. Roxanne was surprised to hear a buyer say those words, but happy as well. This should be quite a smooth deal, she thought.
So Roxanne went off with paperwork in hand and a bounce in her step, and she made the offer. After some back and forth, an offer was accepted and the building inspection was scheduled. Because of the size of the building and some issues that needed to be addressed on different days, the first inspection was scheduled and successfully completed with both Bobby and Roxanne in attendance. The purchase process was moving forward and all looked rosy for both buyer and agent alike.
And then the gears ground to a halt. Bobby stopped responding. He did not answer phone calls or texts or respond to emails. As he was representing himself as the attorney, calling the attorney produced no results. He missed due dates and a month later, the deal died. Bobby made Roxanne look foolish as she didn't know what was going on or where her buyer disappeared to. She found some evidence that suggested Bobby may have moved forward with a for-sale-for-owner property in the same area, but that was not proven. Bobby just went "poof."
So Roxanne turned her attention to other clients, clients who truly wanted the assistance of this wonderfully attentive and skilled agent. She spent a few minutes thinking of the lack of fiduciary behavior demonstrated by Bobby and then she said, as all real estate agents learn to do, "Next!!!!"
Note: the publication of this blog on the same weekend as "Love your Lawyer" day is totally coincidental.