Conflicts of Interest
In rare situations, you may run into a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest arises when there is a real or apparent incompatibility between a real estate licensees’ interests and your interests. Some examples of conflicts that may arise in a real estate transaction:
- your home is for sale and the buyer is related to your real estate licensee. This is a conflict of interest because your real estate licensee is supposed to put your needs above all else and if they’re related to the buyer, it could be difficult for them to do so
- your home is for sale and your real estate licensee wants to buy it. This is a conflict of interest because your real estate licensee is supposed to represent your best interests, and they won’t be able to fulfill that fiduciary duty they are buying your property
- your real estate licensee represents the buyer of your property. This is a conflict of interest because your real estate licensee has the same responsibility of undivided loyalty to both you and the buyer, and cannot act in the best interests of both you and their buyer client
Licensees have an obligation to avoid, and disclose any conflicts of interest to you as soon as they arise.
That disclosure requires them to:
- give you all the details they know about the conflict
- explain why they believe they are in a conflict or potential conflict of interest
- describe how the conflict affects you
- advise you to obtain independent advice
Transaction brokerage is a way to deal with the one specific type of conflict of interest that arises when your real estate licensee also represents a buyer who wants to buy your home. It allows your real estate licensee to work with both you and the buyer in the same transaction.
In transaction brokerage, your real estate licensee becomes a transaction facilitator, and treats you and the buyer in an even-handed, objective, and impartial manner. The real estate licensee no longer owes you or the buyer undivided loyalty.
If you and the buyer agree to proceed in transaction brokerage, you will both have to sign an Agreement to Represent Both Buyer and Seller form, which ends the sole agency representation for you and the buyer, and it sets out the terms of the new relationship between your real estate licensee, you, and the buyer. If you or the buyer don’t agree to transaction brokerage, your real estate licensee will present you with other options.
Once you are aware of any conflict of interest, it’s up to you how you want to proceed. You may want to get legal advice or you may want to proceed with a different real estate licensee.
Your real estate licensee cannot provide services to you if they are in a conflict of interest unless you give them your written informed consent.