I saw an ad for a buyer broker that said everything i tell the listing agent is shared with the seller.True?

Asked by Dorothy, San Francisco, CA Fri May 8, 2009

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David Tapper, Agent, Burlingame, CA
Fri May 8, 2009
Hi Dorothy, I agree with both Beth and Lance, but I have a question. You didn't say you were buying a home using the listing agent, you said you saw an ad from a buyer broker and that everything you say to the listing agent will be said to the seller? Correct? I agree, everything you tell the listing agent, say at an open home will be shared with the seller. It's called communication.

But, if you are buying a home and decide to work with the listing agent as a "dual" agent for you and the seller, I'm sure some of what you say will be communicated to the seller as well. Whether this is right or wrong.

Lance told you it's probably smart to have someone represent your best interest, and that is exactly what you should do. Hire an agent whose sole obligation is to look out for your best interest.


Dave Tap Tapper
Web Reference:  http://www.TeamTapper.com
1 vote
Mission Viejo…, , Mission Viejo, CA
Fri May 8, 2009
Until you sign a duel agentcy agreement, the listing agent is working for his client the seller. Once you sign that agreement he can not tell either of you anything about the other. He still has to be honest with you if he knows anything about the house that would make you not buy the house.
1 vote
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Fri May 8, 2009
Hi Dorothy, an Agent has certain Fiduciary duties to a client (A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care possible). These can be boiled down to Loyalty, Obedience, Diligence, Disclosure, Accountability, and Confidentiality. The Listing Broker works for the Seller. He has no obligation to keep information you tell him as confidential, in fact, he has a duty to disclose information material to the transaction to the Seller.

This is a perfect example of where a Dual-Agency can introduce conflict. To avoid this conflict of duties, a Dual-Agent may not place either client into a beneficial position over the other. For example, a Dual-Agent can provide the price of a home but can’t provide advice as to the appropriateness of the price. Another example might be where a Dual-Agent performs a Comprehensive Market Analysis. The findings can be shared, but not interpreted to either client.

Best, Steve
1 vote
Debra Lynn S…, , Harbor Springs, MI
Sat May 9, 2009
yes this is so true, that is how buyers brokers came into being, buyers thought when they walked into the office to work with an agent that the agent was working for them, that is where the pharse "buyer beware" came into play because actually the agent was working with the seller and has a fiduacary duty to the seller. so when you told the agent you could go up to 500,000 but offered 475,000 the seller would know your price range from the agent. this is why if you are buying a house you should be using a buyers agent, someone that is ABR accredited. Hope that helps go to http://www.rebac.com for buyers agents. Debra
0 votes
J R, , New York, NY
Sat May 9, 2009
They may not necessarily share everything with the seller, but they have a fiduciary duty TO share everything you tell them.
0 votes
Rob Regan, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Sat May 9, 2009
Agree with all of the most recent answers.... "advertising" from someone trying to solicit your "buyer business" almost always includes that "benefit". In addition, buyer agents' ads will often point out that the Listing Agreement between Seller and Seller's Agent often calls for a commission that either gets split with the Buyer's agent, or if the Buyer has no agent the Seller's agent keeps 100% of the commission. So the point is that you don't have any advantage in not choosing to work with a Buyer's agent. The Seller or the Seller's agent won't be giving you an additional discount if you don't have your own agent.

So there is little reason not to hire your own agent.... and that agent usually works for free unless or until you complete a transaction with you. So why not interview a few until you find someone you trust to work hard in your best interest?
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Shaban Shako…, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri May 8, 2009
Depending on how the listing agent performs her duties, you should expect that whatever you tell the listing agent will be passed on to the seller in one form or another. Some listing agents share more with the sellers than others, but they all have the same fidiciary duty (one of the highest levels of trust that exists in business law) to protect the interests of the seller.

It is important when speaking with the listing agent that you choose your words wisely, while remaining honest and ethical. Good luck with your transaction!

Shaban Shakoori
TRI Coldwell Banker, SF's #1 Office
Web Reference:  http://www.residentialsf.com
0 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Fri May 8, 2009
Yes. The listing agent has a contract with the seller and is acting as the sellers agent. They have a fiduciary duty to the principal (client). That is the highest level of duty under professional license. The duty is toplace the clients interest above any other in a lawful manner.
The only people that should ever enter into a purchase without representation are sophisitaced and experienced in multiple transactions with a good understanding of the law, negotation and contract language.
The dollar amounts are high, the risks and loss can be huge and the ramifications of the wrong action or even saying the wrong thing can be life impacting.
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Wallace Hags…, Agent, Valencia, CA
Fri May 8, 2009
This potential scenarion is precisely why you should consider hiring a "Buyers Agent". In doing so YOUR interests will be protected!
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Jason Chapin, , San Francisco, CA
Fri May 8, 2009
Things you mention to a seller's agent can be represented to the seller. As agents we have a fiduciary responsibility to represent the best interests of our clients. The seller's agent has a responsibility to their principal which includes revealing facts associated with the transaction. Now, that agent has an ethical responsibility to be truthful to you and everyone else. However, unless that agent is representing you as well they could be relaying information back to their seller.

This is something that makes dual agency a touchy situation. California law allows dual agency, but how do you effectively represent both parties? Everyone feels differently about the issue, but dual agency philosophically changes the nature of agency relationships.

Hope that helps...

Take care and good luck!

Jason Chapin
McGuire Urban Bay
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri May 8, 2009

First of all, I don't recommend having the same agent/broker representing you on both sides unless you have absolute faith in that person's integrity. We rarely do it because of an implied conflict of interest even though it's legal. That said, your agent/broker shouldn't tell anything to the seller without your approval first. I'd like to see that ad because it doesn't make sense.

Beth is right about confidentiality. The way the dual agency is supposed to work is that neither the seller nor the buyer gains an advantage because of the dual agency. That means the agent shouldn't tell you anything not authorized by the seller as well.

With the little information you've given here it sounds to me like you need a different representative as this situation gives a significant advantage to the seller. Why would you want everything you say to go straight to the person on the other side of the table? I would interview three reputable agents/brokers and find someone who is going to represent YOUR interests.There are several who regularly post on this board, and we're always happy to give no-strings consultations.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Managing Broker
0 votes
Beth Fread, Agent, Wasilla, AK
Fri May 8, 2009
I am not directly familiar with CA Real Estate law, but Alaska's laws are based on CA law. I would definitely check with the broker, but in Alaska, unless you are working with the Seller's representative, licensees are required to maintain confidentiality. In the case where the licensee is working with both the Seller and the Buyer, in what we call a "Neutral" capacity, both sides use the licensee as a conduit for information exchange. So anything one side wants the other side to know, they tell the licensee.
0 votes
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