What You Say Matters

In yesterday’s post about representation, Ken Montville and I had a little exchange in the comments that got me to thinking about how we agents explain one of our most important (and mandatory) disclosures – the Understanding Whom Agents Represent disclosure.

Most agents I hear mumble something like “here, the law says I have to give this to you.” I’ve heard agents read it verbatim to buyers – I think the buyers were asleep within seconds. Anyway, most agents tend to explain it in a very agent-centric manner, relating it more to what we do than to how it affects the buyer or seller.

Here’s my take on this disclosure:

“Ms. Buyer, this disclosure explains how we agents are allowed to represent buyers and sellers. But more importantly, since we just met and you don’t really know me yet, this document tells me how I am to treat your confidential information. It’s your instruction guide to me, because I have no choice here. I must represent either the buyer or the seller. I’m not allowed to be neutral.”

Usually the buyer looks puzzled, probably thinking that she is not likely to blurt out her social security number to me in a fit of trust.

So I explain further, much as I did in yesterday’s post.

“Let’s say you, Ms. Buyer, like this house we’re about to see. You tell me how much you love it, you’ve got to have it, but you don’t want to offer full price. You’d pay full price if you had to, but you’d like to start off a bit lower. Now, this document tells me, depending upon your choices, if I have to keep that information to myself or if I must pass it on to the seller. Furthermore, this document is not binding on you in any way – it is only binding on me.

“Now, Ms. Buyer, would you prefer that I look out for your best interests or the sellers?”

I have never had a buyer not sign the disclosure form after explaining it this way. Wanna read the disclosure for yourself? It’s right here.

© 2011 Susan Pruden

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