John is a proud member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer's Agents (NAEBA). John has taught agency law for the continuing education program and, as a member of the Realtor Standards and Practices Committee, participates as an Ethics an Arbitration chairman.
In 1999, John initiated the political struggle to defeat designated agency in CT, a new law which allows a single real estate office to promise both buyer and seller full advocacy of their opposing positions at the same time. Previously, a real estate firm attempting to represent both sides was defined as a Dual agent, and thereby required to assume a neutral position and disclose this to both parties. Under the newly invented "Designated Agency", one real estate office can promise to negotiate the highest price and terms for the seller while simultaneously promising to negotiate the lowest price and terms for the buyer. Previously there were other words used for this: "Impossible" & "Illegal".
While the CT effort to defeat this remarkable logic started within our firm, we requested assistance from others and a substantial cooperative effort resulted. We contacted consumer advocates from around the country and contacted the Ralph Nader group, which responded immediately by offering coordinating assistance and by directly contacting the CT senators. Several senators ultimately expressed distress when they came to recognize that the proposed law offered nothing of value to the public. As Nader put it, "No amount of amending of this entirely anti-consumer bill, which legalizes an inherent conflict of interest, can produce any benefit to consumers." The bill was sent back to committee to die....or so it seemed. It appeared we had won.
Unfortunately, in one of the less appealing acts of political maneuvering to occur in our state recently, the buried bill re-emerged under a different bill number in the last three hours before the close of the legislative year and was voice-voted through to the "consent calendar" (a group of bills pre-slated to be accepted as a group).
That is how designated agency became law in CT. This legislative action in the late hours overcame 300 years of legal precedent in US law country which had consistently defined this kind of conflict of interest as illegal.
Our thinking is that any erosion of public protection under agency law should be guarded against. The benefits of these protections are many, and the benefits of sound agency law are many and are felt by all agents from all companies and by the home buying and home selling public. They protect the public and they promote the perception of integrity within our industry.
The logic of this episode of law making is understandable only when studied in conjunction with related campaign contributions.
Ironically, the law has been a positive influence on our own business. Our pledge to refrain from dual agency or designated agency has assisted us in highlighting the commitment we make to our clients. We had anticipated this possibility, but we welcome no gain to ourselves that comes at the cost of undermining the better principles of our industry.