Looking at limited dual agency with eyes wide open

by Paul Cowhig, Advisor, Professional Standards

All of us are trying our best to get a grip on exactly what the end of Limited Dual Agency (LDA) means in the real world where we actually live and work.

It is interesting that, almost every time I hear someone say, “LDA is going to be banned!” the very next thing I hear is, “…but we can still double end.”

What does that say about us? Our values, and what we care about?

How we respond to any given situation illustrates our character and how we choose to respond to any new rules will reveal our values as a profession.

We’ve known for a long time that LDA was problematic. Representing both sides of a transaction is the Wikipedia definition of conflict of interest. It just is.

conflict of interest is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interestsfinancial or otherwise, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation or decision-making of that individual or organization. – Wikipedia

REALTORS® who deny it are either unclear about what conflict of interest means or they don’t want to face up to it.

We have been our own worst enemy by not holding our collective feet to the fire on issues like this. We knew there was something not quite right about practicing LDA and we chose to ignore it because we could, and because the status quo was good for us.

That mentality is not consistent with the spirit of agency representation and I believe it’s at the root of why we lost the privilege of self regulation.

We are not salespeople first and foremost. We are licensed to act as agents for people who are buying and selling real estate.  By providing agency representation to our clients we help facilitate the process fairly and effectively.

The parties in a real estate contract have essentially opposite goals. Part of the essence of agency is the fiduciary duty to represent your clients’ best interests.

It makes perfect sense that, in the vast majority of cases, each party to a contract would and should have their own agent. Each want the price, terms and conditions that are best for them. It’s not difficult to see that it will almost always be in the best interest of the public to have their own agent and because of that, double ending should be the rare exception to the rule.

Now that the Superintendent has formally announced that the new rules eliminating LDA will come into effect March 15, 2018, and plans to provide us with the new forms, disclosures and training, we will soon discover the exact nature of the changes that are coming.

However, that should not stop us from reflecting on our own values and be diligent in our efforts to not take undue advantage of our remaining ability to double end a transaction. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Any comments? Feel free to email me at paul.cowhig@fvreb.bc.ca