Selling a home in Salem Oregon
Some time ago, I was chatting with another agent about one of my homes for sale in Salem Oregon. Her client had made an offer and things were not going well for a bunch of reasons…reasons that I couldn’t tell her about. The agent was frustrated with me and said “well we haven’t even talked about why your seller is selling.” My response, “You know I can’t tell you that because it violates the law.” Yes, telling another agent WHY you are selling your home violates Oregon law. Confidentiality is one of our fiduciary duties to our clients. This is outlined in the Oregon Revised Statues starting with 696.800. I handled the situation by calling my client and asking permission to disclose what was happening that was causing problems with the offer.
Lisa Heindel, a really great West Bank New Orleans real estate agent, wrote a post about a similar situation on an MLS listing. You can read her post about an agent violating their fiduciary duties to their seller, but the general gist was that on the MLS an agent disclosed that her clients were getting a divorce and must sell now. Now, it is possible in the situation that Lisa outlined in her post that the sellers were aware and okay with the disclosure. If that is the case, then the agent’s actions are legal, if not, then they violated their fiduciary duties to their clients.
One of the challenges of real estate is “the deal.” Most real estate agents don’t get paid until we “close the deal.” This system generally works well for buyers and sellers since most don’t have funds to pay for services outside of closing. The problem with the system is that it is really easy to overstep those fiduciary bounds for the sake of the deal. In my situation that I mentioned above, the agent was clearly bothered that I wasn’t sharing what she felt she needed to know “to bring the parties closer together.” What was clear from her tone was that this was a common conversation she had and was surprised that I wouldn’t share: I wasn’t being “friendly” because if I was friendly I would have shared that information.
If you are a home seller in the Salem Oregon area, I encourage you to chat with your agent at the time of the listing about what they will and won’t say about your motivations for selling. Honestly sometimes disclosing things can really help a sale along, but this is an important conversation for you to have with your real estate agent. Personally I think I am friendly while maintaining my fiduciary duties to my clients. I know that this frustrates other local agents who don’t see it that way, but unless you say it’s okay to disclose…it’s not okay. Some agent value friendly over fiduciary, to the detriment of their clients.