Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentIf it seems like I’m picking on Trulia Voices these days, well, you’re probably right. Yesterday there was a thread asking how to go around a listing agent who “seem to be representing their own iterests vs. the interest of the Bank or the Buyer, on a REO???”

More than a half-dozen agents have jumped in to the fray with suggestions. Not a single one has asked what it is the listing agent’s doing that is being construed as being in their own interest versus that of the bank.

Side note: while agents who subscribe to NAR’s Code of Ethics owe fair dealings to the other side in a transaction, at no point is a listing agent charged with looking out for the best interest of a buyer as the questioner suggests. That’s their agent’s job.

Though tempted to ask the question everyone else has ducked, I decided not to do so because I really don’t need not want to know. And lines of questions such as this seem to dance so close to the code of ethics’ prohibition on slamming other agents, it’s not worth getting within a country mile of it.

But here’s the larger issue and the ultimate lesson for today’s post … this attempted purchase has been an ongoing soap opera with a dominant story line of a buyer looking for advice from everyone but their agent. If you can’t trust the person with whom you’re working enough to believe their advice, why are you working with them?

This has come up in my own business of late as well. The beauty of the Internet is there’s a lot of more information available for consumers. The danger is the information is woefully incomplete, but the sheer volume of it all makes it appear comprehensive. It’s not.

Most consumers buy a handful of homes in their lifetime. Most turn to family who also have bought a handful of homes in their lifetime. Collectively, their lifetime of experience equates to about a year’s worth of work in my business.

It’s my fiduciary responsibility to educate a buyer or seller about the process, not to tell them what they want to hear. There are plenty of agents who will tell people exactly what they want to hear. When that happens, it’s time to run.

I can’t tell you what you should value. But my experience in this business, my experience in corporate America, my experience in my own life says to value honesty over a yes man.

[tags]Trulia Voices, Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Hi! I'm Rudy from Trulia. What up JD? 10 years ago

    Hi JD!

    As you said, it’s all about trust. If a buyer or seller starts to question their agents motives or practices, then they have some serious decisions to make about their relationship.

    We provide the platform for agents to communicate directly with buyers and sellers and rely in many instances on the community to monitor the conversation. If you see something that is questionable, flag it or email us. We rely on our community for feedback.

    Honesty is the best policy. You clients are lucky to have you JD!!!

    Have a great night.


    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    But what you also end up with is buyers and sellers already working with agents communicating with other agents en masse and receiving conflicting advice based on incomplete information.

    There’s another one of these questions today. My agent says there are three other offers in, what should I offer? Well, what does your agent say? Just because there are some who are willing to ignore the COE to answer the question doesn’t mean it should be asked in the first place.

  • Hi! I'm Rudy from Trulia. What up JD? 10 years ago

    Hi JD!

    So true. But unfortunately, it happens everyday offline too. I think it’s in peoples nature to seek 2nd and third opinions but can also see how this can hurt rather than help the situation.