Brokerage

Should agents decide to work exclusively with buyers or sellers?

A California Supreme Court case has some in the industry wondering where the fix is -- or if it exists at all
  • Some industry experts say that limiting brokerages to working exclusively with buyers or sellers is the only way to circumvent fiduciary duty and conflicts of interest.
  • Others say that such limitations would be unrealistic, particularly for real estate teams and franchises.

When Hong Kong-based millionaire Hiroshi Horiike toured a home in Los Angeles in late 2007 with Coldwell Banker agent Chris Cortazzo, who was listing the property, nobody on the tour knew that it would eventually result in oral arguments in front of the California Supreme Court. But that's what happened earlier this week when lawyers representing Horiike on one side and Coldwell Banker and Cortazzo on the other side told the justices two stories: one involving a breach of fiduciary duty and the other involving a transaction wherein the listing agent mistakenly misrepresented some attributes of the property and the buyer didn't read everything that he signed. The nuts and bolts of the case Horiike claims that because his agent, Chizuko Namba, was an agent in Coldwell Banker’s Beverly Hills office -- while Cortazzo operated out of the Malibu West Coldwell Banker office -- the brokerage and Cortazzo owed him the same fiduciary duty as Namba. He claims that Cortazzo and Co...