1:00 Minute Read.
Almost every problem that’s brought to my desk is solved by answering one simple question. In my experience, most agents know the law, understand their transactions and are pretty savvy when dealing with people. However, as buyers and sellers make greater demands, many agents feel an obligation to keep everyone happy. Once that ball starts rolling, there is no stopping it. Before you know it, either party can become upset by feeling you’ve offered preferential treatment to the other side.
Who are you under contract to serve?
That’s the first question I ask agents.
It’s easy to become part of the problem. Sometimes the harder you try, the more difficult an issue becomes. When unwinding the situation with agents, I’ve found the person with the stronger personality often wins the majority of agent’s favors. That’s a real problem. Also, “Ye have not because ye ask not” isn’t a reliable method of dealing with real estate transactions either. Some people find it easy to ask for favors. Some ask for a lot. So, the real question is who are you under contract to serve? Contracts are clear. We serve sellers, buyers, both or neither. There is no other option. Once we know where our loyalty should be placed, it’s much easier to sort through and correct problematic issues.
Situations like these are practical reasons to get Agency Disclosures signed ASAP. Not only is it the law, it’s also very smart. And don’t be afraid to pull out a signed disclosure to remind participants whom you are working for. Simply put, be honest with everyone but clearly work for the benefit of your client.
Which leads me to my personal pet-peeve: dual agency. I hate it. While agents may be able to serve both parties in a transaction, it cannot be done perfectly. Every question, answer and negotiation becomes a potential land mine. Yet, sometimes dual agency can’t be avoided. Our company policy is simple: Serve the seller or the buyer, but not both. If dual agency exists, make sure there is a damn good reason for it. Since we’ve cut out dual agency from our system, most client complaints and agent problems have evaporated.
Take-away: It’s OK to put effort into satisfying the needs of everyone – provided the client – the one we’re under contract to serve - understands and approves.