It seems like an innocent, natural question to ask. After all, if there’s a problem with the property, the buyer would like to know about it, right?
There’s a problem with asking the Realtor whose sign is in the property’s front yard. He or she has fiduciary duties to the seller. Those include confidentiality. By law, the listing agent cannot disclose anything that would impact the seller or sellers in a negative way – except for things that would impact a buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property.
For example, if a train station was about to be built next door to a Minneapolis duplex, the Realtor representing you, the buyer, would have to tell you.
But if, for example, the sellers are getting divorced, suffer a job loss, getting married or retiring and moving out of state – or any other reason you can think of, an agent telling you that information may result in you offering less for the duplex than you would have without knowing it.
And that could cost the sellers money.
The same holds true in the other direction. If a buyer is under contract with a Realtor who is helping him or her buy a duplex, that agent can’t disclose anything that would impact their client in a negative way either.
For example, let’s say a buyer wants to offer significantly less than the price a duplex is listed for. However, the buyer tells their Realtor they simply want to see if it works. If the offer is rejected, he or she would be willing to pay more or even offer full price.
If the buyer’s agent shares this with the listing agent or the seller, the seller is going to reject that lower offer.
After all, if he or she knows for a fact they can put more money in their pockets, doesn’t it just make sense?
Most matters in real estate do when you stop and think them through.