The cards are stacked against you!
The traditional real estate industry in Massachusetts uses deception to sell you a home pretending to be your actual agent. In order to reverse that and gain the upper hand you need to buy your home through the “right agent” and you need to start working with the “right agent” as early as possible in the process.
The “right agent” is one who really is a True Loyal Agent™ and who has the legal obligation to be your protector, to be loyal to you alone and to look out for your best interest at all times and in every situation. I’ve coined the phrase, “True Loyal Agent™”, to distinguish a real estate licensee/true agent who is with a company that represents real estate consumers as a true agent and never practices dual or designated agency from the traditional real estate licensee/salesperson who is with a company that practices dual or designated agency purely for the purposes of greed and double-dipping of commissions.
True Loyal Agents™ provide full fiduciary duties at all times and in every situation. This is the mark of a true agent. You are the client, also known as the principal. They are your agent. The fiduciary duties owed to you by such an agent are known by the acronym “old car”: Obedience to Lawful Instruction; Undivided Loyalty; Full Disclosure of Material Information; Confidentiality; Accounting; Reasonable Skill and Care.
A True Loyal Agent™ will protect you from making mistakes in the homebuying process as their legal duty is to protect you from harm and to look out for your best interest at all times and in every situation.
True Loyal Agents™ who represent homebuyers only are known as “exclusive buyer agents”.
True Loyal Agents™ who may represent buyers and sellers, but never in the same transaction are known as “true single party agents”.
Home buyers in Massachusetts can choose to work with real estate licensees who represent the seller, real estate licensees who represent the buyer, real estate licensees who try to represent both the seller and the buyer (known in Massachusetts as dual or designated agents) or real estate licensees who represent neither the seller nor the buyer (known in Massachusetts as facilitators).
Real estate licensees who represent the seller, by law, must be loyal to the seller and must look out for the seller’s best interest and work to get the highest price and best terms for the seller.
Real estate licensees who represent the buyer, by law, must be loyal to the buyer and must look out for the buyer’s best interest and work to get the lowest price and best terms for the buyer.
Real estate licensees who attempt to work for both (dual or designated agents) must remain neutral and really can’t provide the “OLD” part of our acronym “OLD CAR” noted above: Obedience to Lawful Instruction; Undivided Loyalty or Full Disclosure to either party.
However, in Massachusetts the Mandatory Real Estate Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure form implies that “designated agents” can provide undivided loyalty. This is something that is questionable at best and considered misleading and perhaps fraudulent by some, including this author.
Common sense tells you something isn’t quite right with a so-called designated agent being able to provide undivided loyalty to you when one or more other agents in the same real estate company are saying the same thing to the seller of the home you want to buy.
Agents who work both sides have ongoing relationships with one another. Can you trust that their loyalty to you and your home purchase is greater than their loyalty to their office and coworkers?
You want the lowest price and best terms and the seller wants the highest price and best terms. And, the real estate company wants to make a deal and double-end a commission from both the sell and buy side of the transaction.
Traditional real estate licensees/salespeople share information all the time about their buyers’ and their sellers’ needs and qualifications in an effort to make an in-house deal. They do this in passing or at sales meetings or over lunch or coffee. Do you believe that having a licensee/salesperson telling others in their company that they have a buyer who is qualified to pay $x for a home or has cash for a sizable down payment or that their lease is up in two months and they have to find a home like yesterday is to your advantage?
Do you really think that information won’t be used against you?
Does it make sense that they can somehow properly represent you on an in-house sale while doing the same thing to the seller?
I can get into great detail as to why designated agency is not proper and has no true legal basis to operate as purported and in fact have an internet blog that gets into great detail about the issue.
However, I will simply leave it up to your good sense and judgement and say that agreeing to designated agency could cost you thousands of dollars.
This post is about finding a True Loyal Agent™ that takes all the uncertainty out of knowing whether or not the real estate agent you use really is a true loyal agent or really a salesperson in disguise pretending to be your agent.
Be very, very cautious of designated agency. If you doubt my reasoning just ask an attorney to explain it to you. They will also shake their head and probably agree that designated agency as purported to operate as per the disclosure is simply a fantasy.
Attorneys can’t operate that way so why should real estate licensees be able to.
Relationships you have with an attorney or a CPA are based on trust law. They are required by law to be loyal to you and to look out for your best interest at all times. They are your fiduciary, your agent, and you are their client. They owe the full range of “OLD CAR” fiduciary duties to you that I mentioned above when describing what a True Loyal Agent™ is. This is different than the situation of you being a customer. Think in terms of buying a car. You are a customer buying a car from a salesperson.
I’d like to impress on you the importance of true undivided loyalty and what it means – Undivided loyalty prohibits the agent (real estate licensee) from advancing any interests that are adverse to your own. This loyalty is “undivided”. They cannot advance the interests of the seller or themselves or their real estate company above yours. This is an impossible fiduciary duty for agents to provide if they or their company practices dual or designated agency and you are buying a home that is listed by the same agent or another agent in the same company.
A real estate licensee can function as a true fiduciary just like your attorney or CPA or they can function as merely a salesperson or worse a pretend buyer agent. This is probably the most confusing aspect of dealing with a real estate licensee in Massachusetts.
Are you dealing with someone who is a fiduciary or someone who is a salesperson?
Also adding to that confusion, real estate licensees are called agents, when in most instances they really aren’t your agent but rather an agent for the seller or simply not an agent at all but rather a salesperson. I like to refer to them as either a salesperson or licensee rather than agent to try to reduce the confusion.
Thirty years ago real estate agents were in fact agents and believed in true client representation. However, with real estate companies growing larger and depending on in-house sales for increased revenue the concept of true representation has vanished for the traditional real estate company in favor of greed. They simply can’t provide true representation for in-house transactions as noted above.
I’m assuming you don’t want to be sold a home but rather buy a home with someone who is truly on your side and who has a legal obligation to be loyal to you and to look out for your best interest. You should therefore seek out the services of a real estate licensee who really is your agent and who will guarantee to be loyal to you, who will protect you and who will look out for your best interest no matter which property you are interested in. In other words, a True Loyal Agent™. Don’t be Sold, Be Served™ is more than an interesting phase. It should become your goal.
If you decide to buy a home using an agent who represents the seller or is operating as a dual or designated agent, you are buying your home using a salesperson just like buying a used car.
Who is the better advocate for your best deal?
An agent who represents the seller? Agents who try to represent both you and the seller?
Or, an agent who will represent only you in a transaction?
A word of caution: Nearly all traditional listing agents now call themselves buyer agents because they know that is what you want to hear. In other words, you could work with a “so-called” buyer’s agent who also takes listings, represents sellers, and is with a company that takes listings and represents sellers. This isn’t necessarily a problem unless you are interested in a so-called “in-house” listing. That is when the so-called buyer agent that you are working with, and to whom you have given confidential information, will want to switch to being a dual or designated agent. This is a form of bait and switch so watch out for this maneuver.
As mentioned above the “right” agent that works best for home buyers in Massachusetts, and elsewhere for that matter, is an “exclusive buyer’s agent” or a “true single party agent”. You should see why after reading their description in this post.