Ok, gotcha. "Shocking Admission" is the kind of lead you expect to see in the Globe or National Enquirer while you wait in the checkout line at the supermarket. But I was blown away, that buried deep inside the lead article in this Sunday’s NY Times Real Estate section, was an admission by a seller’s agent that their customer paid $10,000 more than the seller was willing to accept for a property because they represented the seller rather than the buyer.
Its the dirty little secret of the real estate business that the vast majority of agents represent sellers, not buyers, and their fiduciary responsibility is to sellers — to get them the highest price and best terms. The whole article (or click here for the .pdf version) is a great lesson in real estate representation. In the article quote, Ms. LePore didn’t do anything illegal or even unethical. In fact, she did exactly what she was supposed to do, and in fact, legally required to do — represent the interests of her client, the seller, not the interests of her customer, the buyer — to whom she had no fiduciary responsibility.
The Times did make one glaring error, or at least twist. They imply that the intermediary in a deal is always the seller’s broker. That’s not true. If you, the buyer, engage the services of a buyer broker, there is an intermediary in the transaction who represents you. Seller’s agents are not the only form of broker. There are also buyer brokers, like me.
People often wonder why I work as an exclusive buyer agent — and never take listings. I think this NY Times article is one of the best illustrations of "Why". Every potential real estate buyer should read it. And if you go out with a seller’s agent to look at property, just remember you’re looking at property with someone who has the same fiduciary responsiblity as Ms. LePore — and is legally bound to act in the same way.