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Welcome to your constantly updated resource for news and views on the Brookline Real Estate market. Here you will find commentary and statistics to explain the daily changes in the Brookline specific housing market.

Whether you're looking for an estate in Cottage Farm, a condo in Brookline Village or are just stopping by please feel free to read along and comment at will. If you are interested in speaking about renting an apartment, buyer representation or listing your home please feel free to contact me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Who protects the renter?

Back when I was moving up to Boston I was working on a project to develop commercial property outside of Massachusetts and wanted to find a "day job" that meshed with those interests. I knew we were moving up here because my wife was going to be in a Ph.D. program in the Medical Area. We had one week in which she had to decide which program to accept and find suitable housing. I spent time on Craig's List searching for rental listings, and called with about 10 days notice to make appointments for the property I wanted to see. I also explained to the agents that we only had 48 hrs to find a place to live, and we absolutely had to have something rented before we left. Rental agent's dream, right?

Here's what the agent never told me: All rental agents are representing the landlord, and only the landlord. It didn't matter to them what I wanted, it only mattered to them what they were able to get for their client. It's funny that on the sales end of real estate transactions we have disclosure forms for everything. The very first time you sit down with an agent it is MANDATORY that you sign a disclosure form that explains the different forms of agency in Massachusetts. It's called the "Mandatory Agency Disclosure Form" and I can bet that more than 75% of you have never seen it before (that's an issue for another day). Yet, when you're looking to rent an apartment, nobody really takes the time to explain who they're representing, and what your options are. You find the place you like, do all of the shopping yourself, get to negotiating the lease, and you're working against the landlord and their agent. You don't have anyone on your side explaining to you what other similar units rented for, or what other options you should ask for (parking included, etc...) and paying the fee. The amazing part of it is landlords and their agents have been able to pull this scam on the public that the "customer" should pay the fee that the landlord negotiated with their agent. To clarify, the agent is working for the landlord, but you are paying for that work.

So, you go sign a lease, and you have a problem with something in the unit, you try to call the agent who "helped you" and you find out they really can't help you at all. You're not their client. It baffles me to no end that in a state so focused on tenants' rights there is nobody in the transaction that is allowed to represent the tenant. The more amusing thing is that while buyer representation is so common now in sales transactions, the rental agents who work side by side with the sales agents cannot fathom exclusively representing a tenant in their search. I hope this is something that changes soon, because rental agents are the first line of agents that consumers usually come in contact with. I decided I should become an agent because I saw how poorly I was treated in my search. I still remember the abysmal service a certain Newbury St. agent gave me, and she is my daily reminder of how I should strive to service my clients' needs. If I didn't get in the business my opinion of all agents would be awful, all because of that first rental agent.


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The views expressed on these pages are the opinion of the author and any public contributors. They do not substitute for the advice of a legal or financial professional. These opinions are not representative of any firm or business. Please always consult an attorney, financial professional or sign a contract with a Buyer Agent or Seller's Agent for specific advice.