Imagine you’ve been working with a real estate agent for weeks or months and finally find the perfect home, but then your agent can no longer work with you because the seller is working with another agent in the same firm.
You’d have to start all over to find another property, or work with another agent you don’t know and who doesn’t know you. That would be the result if, as some advocate, dual agents are no longer allowed (“Real estate brokers should represent only one client,” Viewpoints, May 9).
Or worse, should the agent exclude properties listed with the firm, and not show them to you? Of course not; the buyer wants to see all properties available even if they’re listed with the same brokerage firm.
Since well before the 1980s, California law has allowed brokers to represent both parties with their informed consent. Commercial brokerages are required to use the same disclosure form as residential brokers, but consent has been required for many decades for all types of brokerages.
The Horiike case before the state Supreme Court involves disclosures in multiple-client relationships. Although the Viewpoints author mentions a misrepresentation of square footage, he failed to mention that the jury exonerated the seller’s broker on the buyer’s claims for negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation and concealment.
The issue was complex because Malibu includes some outdoor living areas in determining square footage, but others measured the property differently. All of this was fully disclosed but apparently not read. At its core, this case is an issue of a buyer not bothering to read all the information.
There are many different real estate brokerage models. Some cater solely to tenants and buyers and others offer a broader array of services. All are free to compete, no one can conceal their allegiances and consumers should be allowed to choose.
But let’s not pretend that the author is advocating anything other than a narrow business model that will give him a competitive advantage at the cost of consumer choice.
Pat “Ziggy” Zicarelli is president of the California Association of Realtors. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.