Realtors Who Give Up Sensitive Information
The Movie Snowden
In the movie Snowden, a disillusioned National Security Analyst uncovers sensitive information about the United States electronic monitoring program during the course of his work. He was a trusted member of the National Security Agency and was given the highest top secret clearances. During his time at the Agency, he becomes jaded and disenchanted with the government and he decides to leak sensitive information to the press about the United States government spying on its citizens.
Whether you feel he did the right thing or not, let's look at this from the side of the National Security Agency; they trusted him with some of the most sensitive data in the world and he betrayed them, giving the information to the press and possibly to the Russians where he has been holed-up since he leaked the information.
Similar to Snowden, I frequently see Calgary area realtors entrusted with sensitive information, betray their sellers and divulge that 'data' to the 'enemy'; me, the buying realtor. All too often I have a selling realtor disclose to me either a seller's lowest price or their motivation for selling without permission from the sellers. When this disclosure is intentional that's when it bugs me the most. Sometimes the selling realtor accidently discloses that the sale is happening because of a divorce or that the sellers have moved away but all too often a listing realtor will tell me the bottom line of the sellers to make a deal come together. Representing a buyer I can then use that information to help the buyers I represent put together an offer that is favourable to the buyers. Motivation to sell, the lowest price a seller will accept and the particulars surrounding a sale are all pieces of information that help enable buyers to put together offers that are stronger for them. The disclosure of this sensitive information by a selling realtor often leads to lower sales prices if placed in the hands of the right buying realtor.
Why is he a traitor?
When Snowden decided to leak classified information, he became a traitor to some, maybe they wouldn't consider him a traitor if he had not leaked the information intentionally. If he was hacked or a virus was put on his computer, maybe they would have just considered him incompetent but he intentionally released sensitive information he was entrusted with and at that moment he became a traitor in the eyes of the National Security Agency.
So what happens when the realtor selling your home leaks the lowest price to the buyers? They should be considered a traitor too, that is in direct conflict of interest with their fiduciary duties to sellers. Unfortunately, some selling realtors want to sell homes as quickly as possible, not look out for the interests of sellers; just look out for their own. They want the home sold so they can move on to the next listing.
Seeing this practice first hand
Just this week I personally had a realtor disclose a seller's bottom line to me and was told a story by someone else who bought a home via a realtor who double ended a deal that this happened with as well. In the situation of the single realtor representing both the buyer and the seller how is it possibly acceptable to divulge the lowest selling price of the sellers without their permission? In that instance the home was listed for $389,000 and the selling realtor told the buyer that she thought the seller's bottom line was $335,000 and she encouraged the buyer to make an offer so they could "make a deal". The buyer did put in an offer and closed at $325,000....that home was listed at $389,000!! That's a big loss for the sellers because their realtor betrayed them and told the buyer their bottom line. That's $13,750 in commission for the selling realtor and a selling price that is $64,000 less than asking for the sellers because they were betrayed.
That's why sometimes it can feel like you are negotiating against the selling realtor too. Several times I have been told by a seller that they felt they were negotiating against the buyers and their own realtor. They were not working with me at the time but an agent they had used before we met. In this situation, there was a pushy selling realtor and an offer from a buyer that was just lower then the seller's bottom line. Why was the selling realtor pressuring them to sell? Why does it look like the buyers knew the bottom line of the sellers based on their offer? Did the selling realtor betray the sellers by divulging this information to the buyers? I see it often enough, a listing realtor telling me the bottom line of the sellers so that "we can bring a deal together". That selling realtor isn't referring to the buyers and the sellers bringing a deal together, they are referring to themselves and me; so the realtors can bring a deal together and get paid; because they think that I am equally motivated by money and are as desperate for a sale as them but that's not the case.
Similar in my mind to when you trust your realtor, the National Security Agency trusted Snowden. Once he leaked that information he betrayed their trust and is now considered a traitor; same thing when the selling realtor announces the seller's bottom line to the buyers. They are betraying their trust and should be treated accordingly.
How does it effect sellers
Just like in the movie, these traitors should be hunted down and brought to justice, for betraying the sellers; their client who has entrusted them with valuable information, their lowest selling price or their motivation to sell. Too often I see realtors approach me with the bottom line of their sellers or the seller's motivation for selling; unbeknown to their clients so that the listing agent can put a deal together. The selling realtor wants the number to be as appealing to the buyers as possible so they can get the home sold, case closed and move on to the next sale. Often, when representing buyers, I know that they would have paid more for a property but the selling agent already told me what he or she 'thinks' the sellers will be willing to take and why.
That's important, sensitive information that should be guarded at all costs, not given to the 'enemy' so that they can use the information against you. Just like in the movie Snowden, you have to know who you are trusting, the National Security Agency never suspected that Snowden was leaking information to the press until it was too late, just like when a selling realtor leaks the lowest price you will accept to the buyers to make a sale. You would never suspect they would do that because they are supposed to be looking out for their client's interests but you'll never know if they do either; until it's too late.
Finding someone you can truly trust in the real estate world is hard, once you find that person, hold on to them, they can be worth their weight in gold.