Buyer's Agent or Listing Agent | Know Your Job | Do It Properly

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Barbara Todaro's message today is not only valuable to you as an agent building a reputation - it could be vital to your financial and emotional health and well-being. 

I'm thinking back to an incident that happened 20 or more years ago -  back when there were no buyer agents and everyone represented the seller...

An out-of-town agency took a listing for 5 acres on the highway outside of our small town. They put up an oversized sign with "Commercial Property" blazoned across it.

The man who owned a small saw shop tucked away in a corner of downtown wanted that better location for his saw shop because of the better exposure it would give him. So he went to a local agent and purchased it. Of course he paid 3 or 4 times what it would have been worth as residential property.

His struggle to get the zoning changed so it WOULD be commercial went on for years and was unsuccessful. Nearly every business person in town (including me) signed a petition to the County, but to no avail.

Finally, the man gave up. Since he could not use the land as intended, he sued the real estate agents and the seller.

When the case went to court, the judge disallowed showing the photo of the sign advertising it as commercial - and the agent who worked with the buyer (but represented the seller through sub-agency), lost the battle. The listing agent and agency got off scott-free.

Of course we never learned the conclusion. The agent had moved away so we don't know if he found a way to pay back the buyer and seller, plus all the costs or if he was forced into bankruptcy.

The conclusion: Because the local agent presented it to the buyer as commercial, he was the one who should have verified the zoning. He should not have relied upon the listing agent's misrepresentation.

So agents beware! Don't be lazy. Verify the facts.

Now, your liability is not just implied. You legally represent buyers, and you owe them due dilligence.


Original content by Barbara Todaro 104763

Simply stated, it seems to me that many buyer agents do not accept the responsibility of verifying information provided by the listing agent. What is the responsibility of the buyer’s agent in a transaction?


I’ve always been a listing agent, and I clearly understood what my role was within every transaction from start to finish. There are buyer agents who rely fully on the listing agent to furnish every detail connected to the listing.



Many do!  I always went above and beyond to provide all information to make the transaction run as smoothly as possible, and to secure the right buyer as quickly as possible.


When I provided information obtained by the seller, I would “verify” that information with other reliable sources.  Once verified, I would share the information.



If I were a buyer’s agent, and received that verified information from the listing agent, I would verify it myself. I would go one step further and research to verify that all information had been relayed, and there were no other details missing!


A buyer’s agent is obligated to do that research. What is the role of the buyer’s agent, if it’s not to represent the buyer to the Nth degree? It’s not acceptable to point fingers at listing agents who may or may not be competent. 



Accusations do not take the liability off the buyer’s agent. A buyer’s agent IS liable for NOT representing the buyer properly. Each agent has a job description. When both parties are thorough with those tasks, the transaction proceeds smoothly and professionally.



Each transaction is as good as the agents who are parties to that transaction.  First and foremost, know your job.  Secondly, learn to do it properly.



Just saying…..


Barbara Todaro, sales manager of RE/MAX Executive Realty 

308 W. Central St...suite E

Franklin, MA 02038


Exclusive Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team


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Comments (5)

Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Hi Marte Cliff thank you for the reblog.... your example is frightening.... I can't imagine any listing agent having the courage to do that...

Jun 25, 2017 10:24 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Barbara Todaro I can't imagine it either. It has to be that they were ignorant. Perhaps the seller told them it was commercial - or that it should be commercial.

It should be - both sides of the highway between Priest River and Newport should be - but the County doesn't want strip zoning. They also don't want to expand the commercial district in Priest River, which made it pretty tough for any expansion to occur. (Back in the days when it might have - now they could just move into one of the many vacant storefronts.)

Whatever the reason, they (agents on both sides) either didn't bother to look at the zoning maps or they  were deliberately deceptive.

We all wondered at the time if the listing agent/agency was "in" with the judge - because it made no sense for that agency to bear none of the responsibility. It could be they were all part of that Sandpoint "Good old boys" club.

Jun 25, 2017 10:42 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Great post for a reblog - I hadn't read it when Barbara posted originally.

What a horror story for the buyer and for the buyer's agent in your story. I check everything, whether I'm a listing agent or a buyer's agent. In fact, one time, after one of my listings was on the market for a while, the owner called me up and said, "Hey, you put the wrong square footage on the listing" (which they had read ahead of time) and "It shoud be xxxx square feet instead". So I pulled up my notes, the information I had received from the town, and I said, "No, I'm right, here's the backup information for the numbers I used." and they got back to me and admitted I was correct.

I would have felt horrible if I had been wrong and would have changed the information immediately!

Jun 25, 2017 11:05 AM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

I learned very early in a legal seminar that when presenting information you present it in a particular way and ALWAYS identify the source. It is as natural as can be after all these years.

Jun 29, 2017 08:15 PM
Marte Cliff

Debbie Reynolds - Isn't it wonderful when you learn something important early on - and it sticks with you.

In this case, the source (listing agent) wasn't reliable, so the agent should have checked the real source: The County Courthouse or a zoning map. Pretty simple.

Jun 29, 2017 08:56 PM