It is a safe observation based on over 30 years of real estate practice that the vast majority of consumers – in this case real estate buyers/tenants and sellers/landlords – do not understand the concepts of “agency.” One might also observe that a significant segment, if not most, of the licensed real estate practitioners do not completely understand the concepts of “agency.” This is not so much an indictment of real estate licensees as it is a statement on the twisted, awkward and convoluted nature of agency laws that have been imposed on our industry by our esteemed governing and regulatory bodies.
The Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act (RELRA) requires that consumers be provided with a Consumer Notice at the initial interview or meeting. Instead of boring you with an explanation of the entire Consumer Notice, I am going to tell you about the most important part:
Buyer Agent (or Tenant Rep): As a buyer agent (or tenant rep), the licensee and the licensee’s company work EXCLUSIVELY for the buyer/tenant even if paid by the seller/landlord. The buyer agent (or tenant rep) MUST act in the buyer’s/tenant’s best interest, including making a continuous and good faith effort to find a property for the buyer/tenant, except while the buyer/tenant is subject to an existing contract, and must keep all confidential information, other than known material defects about the property, confidential.
What does all this mean? If you are buying or leasing commercial real estate you want a Buyer Agent/Tenant Representative to represent you. Here are four risks that you don’t want take:
Risk #1: Your broker will be representing two opposite interests
When you think about a tenant or buyer and a landlord or seller, each has a need that is opposite of one another. Everyone involved also wants the best deal at the best price. This is where the inherent conflict exists. A real estate broker cannot equally represent both parties’ interests while negotiating hard. A better deal for one party means a lesser deal for another party. Someone will always play second fiddle. Do you want to risk this person being you?
Instead, look for a real estate broker who only represents clients like you – either a tenant/buyer or a landlord/seller. Not both.
Risk #2: You may be pushed into an option that is not best suited for you
The second risk of working with a real estate broker who does not exclusively represent one party is that you may not be presented with all of the options available to you. For example, you are looking for office space and your broker represents several landlords who have office space available. You are likely going to be pushed toward choosing from these properties first before they show you outside properties with which they have no association.
While this makes perfect business sense for your broker, it doesn’t benefit you in the same way. You deserve a broker who will exclusively represent your interests as a buyer/tenant and do all the research necessary to find your ideal property – beyond their own internal client book.
Risk #3: You will not have your broker’s undivided time and resources
You are not likely to ever be your broker’s only client (unless business is exceptionally slow). A good broker will try and dedicate adequate time to meet your needs in a timely fashion, but a broker who represents both sides will have even less available time for you. In addition to fielding your questions, requests and negotiations, they will also be juggling the same from the landlord or seller with whom they want you to sign the deal. .
Ensure your needs will made a priority by working only with a broker who exclusively represents you as a buyer or tenant.
Risk #4: You will get a “Jack of All Trades”…but a master of none
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, for some industries it is an advantage to be a “Jack of All Trades.” In real estate, however, specialization if critical for remaining unbiased and motivated to only work in the favor of one side of the negotiating table. A similar example would be a lawyer. Would you want to be represented by someone in court who was advocating for your case as well as the person arguing the opposite side? The same is true when selecting your real estate broker. You don’t want a mediator; you need someone who is completely free to take your side and negotiate 100% in your best interest…and this is a an exclusive tenant representative or buyer agent.
Have you worked with a real estate broker who represented both tenants and buyers as well as landlords and sellers? Was your experience good or bad? Share your story by commenting below!