You Be the Judge: Buyer Suing Agent

Next Monday may be a monumental day for the real estate industry.  And the outcome of a trial that will be heard in San Diego County will be heavily followed and opined on… by all sorts of interested parties – agents, those who bought, those looking to buy and yours truly.  This morning’s New York Times revealed the situation of a couple who relocated as retirement hovered on the horizon from the bay area – bless their heart – to San Diego.  The home they purchased after what they say was extensive research was not worth the good money they paid.  Hmmm.. sounding familiar?judge.jpg

While this case has some circumstances that seem unique, such as the plantiffs alleging that their agent withheld pertinent information in their decision making process, i.e. the appraisal.  Whether or not information was not sufficiently provided, the story highlights how the emergence of a buyer’s agent is relatively new.  Only in the last couple of decades have real estate agents established themselves as advocates for the buyer.  In the past, before this recent housing boom, agents who were typically involved represented the seller and the buyer was left to their own defenses and negotiations. 

Now that most transactions involve an agent for both sides, the article raises a larger question about the buyer’s agent and one it summed up well:

“In a relationship built on trust, where promises are rarely written down and where — as in this case — there is no signed contract, what are the exact obligations of these representatives in guiding their clients through a sizzling market?”

I’m very intrigued, as I’m sure all you readers are too, by the outcome of this trial.  Donning my powdered wig and black robe at this very moment, I’m not sure how I would judge this.  Particularly not having all the “evidence,” but I am left pondering about the very nature and role of the buyer’s agent.  How should they advise us?  Is their method of compensation in line with the interests of their clients?  How would you rule on this?

Will keep you all posted as the trial hits the courts… stay tuned.