The High Road: Can brokers serve 2 masters?

(Image from Vectorportal)

Those of us brokers with more than one buyer occasionally have clients looking for an apartment or townhouse with the same characteristics.

The question is whether the broker can serve well two clients seeking, say, a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op on the Upper West Side in the 70s for under $1 million.  Certainly, no issues arise unless the broker finds an apartment that perfectly matches each buyer’s requirements.

At the point, the answer to the question I posed is a qualified “yes.”

Although the broker is confronted with an unavoidable conflict of interest in trying to help the two buyers, there is a solution, which, however, could prove to be messy.

The solution: Shine a bright light on the situation.  In other words, the broker needs to tell each person she or he is representing that others share their objective and, in the best of all worlds, perhaps obtain written confirmation of their approval.

The messy part occurs when one or both of the prospective purchasers balks.  If so, the broker loses a client but keeps intact his or her broker’s ethical principles.

But let’s say both buyers agree and each of them wants to make an offer.  That puts the broker in an untenable position.

Submitting two offers knowing their contents would be like playing poker with two of the hands on display.

One buyer will have to obtain representation from another broker.  In the likely event that the original broker continues to enjoy that buyer’s respect and confidence,  a referral will enable receipt of at least part of the commission that otherwise would be due from a successful offer.

Whatever the outcome, nothing is more important to good brokers than their integrity.  Except their reputation.

It is hard to imagine a better place to stand than on the moral and ethical high ground.

Tomorrow: Weekly Roundup

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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