Duty? Loyalty and Obedience

Two of the most important legal obligations of a real estate agent under the law are obedience and loyalty. Our duties also include confidentiality, disclosure of all known facts that may materially affect our clients decision but also a duty to be fair to the other parties of the transaction. These duties are part of our obligation as a fiduciary representative of our client but what do these obligations really mean.

Loyalty, in a legal sense, means that I have to place the clients interests ahead of all other parties including my own. That does not mean that I have to violate my own legal and ethical standards in an effort to facilitate the clients interest but must work tirelessly and diligently to protect and further the clients goals. Although not part of the legal obligation, I also personally subscribe to the literal interpretation of the word.

As a teenager growing up in my parents parts house and garage I learned what loyalty meant on a couple different levels. First of all, I was almost 30 before I realized that there was any other kind of oil other than Valvoline (my father still insists on this from all of us to this day) and AC/Delco spark plugs. Until I reached middle age, I thought this kind of brand loyalty was simply a reflection of their preferences but as the years past, I realized that they actually made less money on these brands than some of the other s that were available but their loyalty was based on their sincere belief that these were in fact better products for their customers.

The legal definition of obedience is that as a fiduciary agent, I have to do what the clients says, as long as it is legal and ethical. I also learned obedience from my parents in a similar fashion as loyalty. Without going into the gory details, let’s just say that obedience was an absolute requirement. More importantly it did not mean just not getting caught doing something wrong but doing it right both morally and ethically, the first time. If I was sent to get a tool (there were 8 full sized tool chests) and I came back with the wrong tool or couldn’t find it. That was a punishable offense. If, God forbid, I came back and said it wasn’t there ( which usually occurred because I did not listen closely enough to the description of where it was) that was an unpardonable sin because it was ALWAYS right where he said it was. In fairness, the punishment I received for these offenses was never as bad as the stories of my parents punishments for the same offenses.

Returning from the nostalgia of my childhood to my obligation of obedience to my client, it is heavily ingrained in my persona to obey instructions but I am sure that most

of you do not want an agent that just blindly does what the client says without outlining alternatives. Bottom line, if a buyer and seller were to handle all of the negotiations without agents guidance and expertise, a vast majority would fail in the negotiation phase. If you approached an attorney about a law suit and the attorney knew that you case had no merit or no chance of being successful, wouldn't you want them to be up-front about it and tell you?

I encounter this with both the agents that I am involved with in cross sales and also agents that I train. They take this requirement as a literal requirement. For instance, if we are preparing an offer on a piece of property that appears to be priced at market value and my client says they want to offer 20% under market value. I believe it is my obligation to explain that this has a very low chance of success and likely will sour the negotiations to the point that they may have to pay more for the home than if they had chosen a reasonable starting point. That is not to say that we are not good negotiators but my philosophy has always been to try to put the other party in the position that the offer is too good to turn down or counter and thereby they will agree to more favorable terms for my side than if we had done an extended series of offers and counter offers. We also believe in our marketing process to the point that if negotiations fail, we will be able to reproduce the effort.

After counseling my client about their options, I will always revert back to my requirement of obedience and loyalty. If the buyer insists on taking actions contrary to my advice, I will do exactly as they say, never disclosing any confidential or strategic information, and then make my best effort to put the transaction together.

I am loyal to my clients forever and always hope that they will, in return, be loyal to me. Having been in this business for what will be 30 years next month, I have never placed my personal interest ahead of my clients interest. If you are looking for an experienced, profession, hardworking, ethical, obedient and loyal agent then our team is the right choice for you in the Avondale area. We consistently outsell our competition and can offer statistics and testimonials to prove it.