What is an agents obligation to a buyer? I was at Century 21 in Coarsegold last week and I was talking to an

Asked by George Gingo, Fresno, CA Sat Apr 26, 2008

Last week, I asked an agent in Coarsegold about the negatives on a home I was interested in. She said that there were a few holes in the walls and a door or two needed to be replaced. I was ok with that. But then, a different person walked up and said, uh, is that the house at so and so street, and I said yes. This person then looks at the agent and says, is it ok if I tell him about the little problem. The agent thought about it, grimaced, and said uh, yes. So, this other person then tells me about a little EPA problem, lots of cops and EPA people there and that the owner ran a septic company and was dumping the sewage on the property. I'M THINKING THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST THING OUT OF THE AGENTS MOUTH TO ME!!!!! How do you assure that an agent tells you EVERYTHING bad about a property?

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Laurie Humph…, Agent, Coarsegold, CA
Wed Mar 11, 2009
It looks like it has been a year since this question was asked, but because I am familiar with this property I would like to add my response. I have talked to several people about this property and the first thing I have told them was the situation with the contamination of the property. I also followed it up with the fact that the state was requiring the clean up. An agent is required to tell you what is known and what might affect your desion to purchase a property. I agree with John, ask around for a reputable agent who is familiar with the area you are interested in.
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Nancy Gunning, Agent, Bass Lake, CA
Wed Jan 21, 2009
You should always be able to get the important details about a property from an educated, knowledgeable agent. If they aren't sure, they should get your email address or phone number and check it out and then get back to you with the important details.

Nancy Gunning, GRI, Realtor
Bass Lake Realty
P. O. Box 112
Bass Lake, CA 93604
President, Yosemite Sierra Chapter
Women's Council of Realtors
cell: 559-760-5480
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Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Hi George,

Who was this "second person" who walked in the room? Was it another agent from the same office? Did you inquire at the listing office about one of their listed properties?

An agent has an obligation to disclose all information material to the property to a prospective buyer. It is impossible for all agents to know every detail about every property. However, there might be seller's disclosures available. What must be disclosed, or what in not required can vary by state law. For example, in some state a suicide is a required disclosure, and in other state, it is not.

Most states have substantial conformity on their laws for disclosures about the physical condition of a property. An EPA problem would fall in that category.

At the time that you begin a conversation with an agent from the listing brokerage, that agent may be acting in capacity of a sellers agent. There remains no justification for withholding factual information about a property, but it is a different relationship than you have w/ a buyer agent. The value and merit of a buyer agent is an advocate who is in your corner. A buyers agent will obtain a sellers disclosure and request information from the listing agent to provide you the run down on a property.

While there is no excuse for failing to provide disclosure of material fact, it is still in your best interest to have a buyer agent who will scale the hurdles and dig out the details for you.

You fully had the right to expect an agent to provide complete and accurate information. If this agent knew, and intentionally withheld information, it was an ethics violation and possibly a legal violation. If you believe it was intentional, it should be reported to the managing broker.

Deborah Madey - Real Estate Broker
Peninsula Realty Group - New Jersey
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Peggy S Baker, Agent, Barrington, IL
Sat Apr 26, 2008
As all states are regulated differently, but in Illinois, it is Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure. Now in some instances where there is a large realty office, many agents dont know each other, and I for instance, dont know any real details of other agents listings, unless I have looked at them and actually inquirred with the listing agent.
In defense of that agent, maybe she didnt know anything about the situation, and if she did, I cannot reply to that. Don't know anything about the practices of C21, but if there was an EPA problem, or potential Meth house, that information would very likely be advised to agents wanting to show. I have heard that Illinois is considering a new Meth House Disclosure, but am unsure for certain. As people would much rather litigate over communicate, I strive to make certain I know as many details about the house/property as possible.
As far as making certain the agent tells you everything bad about the property, a customers only recourse is a signed Buyer's Agreement with the agent, if an 'implied agreement' has not been specifically discussed. In reality, an agent not having a Buyer's agreement or Designated agency with you as a Buyer is working for the Seller. In Illinois, it is our duty to advise the customer who we are working for very early in the conversation, period!. If every real estate agent in every state had to go thru as many procedures and checks and continuing education and abide by a Code of Ethics as we do in Illinois and MANY other great states in this country, more people might not experience some of the issues you have with your comments.
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Heidi Golff, Agent, Ventura, CA
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Hello George,

The agent is not going to know everything about a house; however, he/she has an obligation to tell you all of what they DO know. I would run from that agent as fast as I can. Go to people you know who have recently purchased or sold a home and ask them if they would use that same agent again. Go to someone who has a lot of experience in purchasing and selling and ask them the same question. Referrals are the best bet. If you don't know anyone in the area, go directly to a brokerage company, ask to speak with the managing broker, and get them to refer someone from their office. This way, his reputation is on the line as well and he will get someone who won't embarass him by doing something as unethical as that C-21 agent did.
Web Reference:  http://heidigolff.com
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John Peterson, , 95003
Sat Apr 26, 2008
Get a good reputable agent. Referrals from friends are always valuable.
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