Examining Compliance with Fiduciary Duties: A Study of Real Estate Agents

46 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2005

See all articles by Royce de Rohan Barondes

Royce de Rohan Barondes

University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law

V. Carlos Slawson, Jr.

Louisiana State University


The traditional default rule in the United States has been that, where two brokerage firms participate in the sale of a piece residential real estate, both firms are fiduciaries of the seller. This article provides original empirical evidence showing to be erroneous a common assumption - that, in conflicts between their principals and third parties, real estate agents promote their principals' interests - underlying revisions made in a number of jurisdictions to those principles in the last twenty years.

This article examines whether agents act in accordance with their duties along two dimensions: First, we hypothesize that selling agents may secure business by taking actions that promote the interests of buyers to the detriment of selling agents' principals, the sellers, in ways that decrease sales prices. Second, we examine whether sellers receive worse sales prices where the selling and listing functions are divided between two firms. Such a relationship would be consistent with selling agents improperly seeking to promote buyers' interests, with intra-firm relationships restraining that misconduct better than inter-firm relationships.

The results support the conclusion that, to secure business, selling agents who are fiduciaries of sellers use actions that decrease the returns to their principals, with some evidence that the participation of a listing agent in the same firm as the selling agent partially restrains this activity. In sum, some economically significant malfeasance is not restrained by the duties imposed by law.

This article is the accepted version of The Firm as the Nexus of Relational Contracts: An Empirical Assessment of Real Estate Brokers which can be found at http://ssrn.com/abstract=36500 posted October 23, 1997.

Keywords: real estate agent, brokerage, fiduciary duty, selling agent

JEL Classification: K29

Suggested Citation

Barondes, Royce de Rohan and Slawson, Jr., V. Carlos, Examining Compliance with Fiduciary Duties: A Study of Real Estate Agents. Oregon Law Review, Vol. 84, p. 681, 2005, U of Missouri-Columbia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=798673

Royce de Rohan Barondes (Contact Author)

University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law ( email )

Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO MO 65211
United States
573-882-1109 (Phone)
573-882-4984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.missouri-k.com

V. Carlos Slawson, Jr.

Louisiana State University ( email )

E. J. Ourso College of Business
Department of Finance
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-6308
United States
225-578-6291 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.lsu.edu/business/finance/profile-viewer.php?un=cslawson

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