I’m not worried about the CBC Marketplace report showing that some sales representatives or brokers are offering to break rules in order to double end a deal because I would not have been filmed doing this. This practice is illegal. There’s a big difference between Customer Service and Agency and we MUST be experts in knowing who we are talking to and what secrets we are giving away. CBC hasn’t named the people caught on tape breaking the rules, but hopefully our regulating body (RECO) will be able to get the names and punish the offenders appropriately. CBC’s reason for not giving up the names was that “experts told Marketplace the problems are not specific to individuals but exist across the industry”. I disagree. During the past few years, I’ve been to hundreds of offer presentations on behalf of my Buyer clients and I can say that the majority of professionals are just that … professional. Once in a while, we’ll come across someone who seems as if they may be breaking rules, but there’s not a lot we can do about it because of the secret nature of the multiple offer process.
The bottom line is that I would NEVER be filmed making these promises to potential buyer clients because I would NOT do this. If I am already representing the Sellers, I usually explain to any potential buyers that they will be treated as a customer. They’ll get honesty and fairness, but I will not divulge secrets.
We did have one situation where we listed a house and then our current Buyer clients wanted to make an offer. Pat sat with the Sellers and I sat in another room with the Buyers. I didn’t offer price advice to the Buyers but did follow their directions to improve their offer. I had no idea what the other offer was. My Buyers were very keen to get this house, likely had more money to spend, and they offered enough so that the Seller preferred their offer. The only reason that these Buyers were treated as clients was because they were already clients. But that meant that neither Pat nor I could advise them about what price to offer. Nor could we advise the Sellers about what price to accept from these particular Buyers. This is Real Estate 101 and all of us should know this inside and out.
That doesn’t mean that Buyers aren’t under the impression that there is something to be gained by “going through the listing agent”. A month ago I was sitting in a Tim Horton’s with some buyers who came through my Open House. We were going to be putting together an offer. They asked me to help them out with price … to give them a hint about what the Seller would accept. I clearly explained, again, that the Sellers were the clients and that while I was very happy to be honest with these buyers, any fiduciary duties were owed to my Sellers, which means I would keep their secrets. These buyers asked me if they should just get their own agent and I suggested that it might be the best idea. I got home an hour and a half later than I was supposed to, didn’t get the other side of that commission, but I did my job and I did it properly. My Sellers were well represented. And if I had provided customer service to these buyers, I would have followed the rules to the letter.
If everyone understood Agency and followed the rules, we wouldn’t have to change a thing. Changing the rules so that Multiple Representation is no longer allowed wouldn’t stop what was recorded from happening. These offenders could just refer the Buyers to a friend who was in on the scam. The best way to handle this situation is to punish the offenders and the only way that RECO can investigate is if they have names. It’s likely that these people would no longer be allowed to trade in Real Estate and that would be the best outcome.