There is a pamphlet called the "Consumer Guide to Agency Relationships" that is required to be given to every party, or potential party, in a real estate transaction in Ohio. The following paragraph is from this pamphlet:
Representing the Sellers
Most sellers of real estate choose to list their home for sale with a real estate brokerage. When they do so, they sign a listing agreement that authorizes the brokerage and the listing agent to represent their interests. As the seller’s agent, the brokerage and listing agent must: follow the seller’s lawful instructions, be loyal to the seller, promote the seller’s best interests, disclose material facts to the seller maintain confidential information, act with reasonable skill and care and, account for any money they handle in the transaction. In rare circumstances a listing broker may offer “sub- agency” to other brokerages which would also represent the seller’s interests and owe the seller these same duties.
After reading this, it should be obvious that when a real estate agent is under contract to a Seller through a listing agreement, then that agent is responsible for certain things that we refer to as fiduciary duties. Of these duties, "be loyal to the seller" seems to be a tough one to keep.
Taking on the Team Mentality
If you think of real estate representation in terms of a contest, then you can easily see that the Seller's agent should be on the Seller's team. Everyone on the Seller's team should share the goal of the Seller which is to find a ready, willing, and able buyer to purchase the home for the highest amount of money possible with the least amount of inconvenience to the Seller. In my opinion, the real estate agent and their broker are the coach of the team and no coach should ever undermine their team and its goal.
Everyone who is not on the Seller's team is on another team. The public, every other broker, real estate agent, and even the other agents in the listing agent's brokerage, represent possible buyers for the Seller's home. This other team, although typically not working together, is trying to get the Seller's house for the least amount of money. They are also not concerned with the Sellers' convenience. This other team is not evil, they are just not on the Seller's side.
Agents' Undermining the Seller's Goal
I began writing this article because I received an e-mail from a Seller's representative that really exemplifies the all-too-common lack of professionalism that I see in real estate agents throughout Northwestern Ohio. A little background may help you understand the circumstances that got me the e-mail in the first place.
Every Tuesday throughout the greater Lima area, professional real estate agents tour new listings in order to best understand the available housing inventory. I always supply feedback and encouragement to the listing agents whose homes are on this tour. The response that I got today from one of these feedback e-mails makes very evident that the listing agent is really not looking out for their clients' best interests. Here are the e-mails:
Thanks Tim for your email. Seller priced home low due to quick sale neefedd...she has offer on another home contigent upon Ridge Crest selling. Please keep in mind to show to future buyers.
Is My Outrage Justified?
Okay, I should have changed the names, but I am really shocked and feel that it is important for the public to recognize just how poorly they might be represented. I can overlook the spelling errors and typo's, but I cannot overlook the glaring failure of Michele in her sharing of confidential information about her Seller!
I am actively searching for a ready, willing, and able buyer who would like to make an offer on this listing. It is a great home that is, in my opinion, about $20,000 overpriced, BUT we already know that they Seller is in a situation that might be desperate enough to take a ridiculous offer.
Hey Seller's in the Lima, Ohio area - quit giving this agent the opportunities to NOT represent your best interests!