I’m always amazed or maybe not at how greedy some people can act.  You see it all of the time with lawyers in Illinois who take on cases that they don’t really have a lot of experience with, but want to make what they think will be a quick buck.  They forget what’s best for their client and instead learn how to handle a case on the back of someone who has come to them for help.  It’s pretty shady.

One area of work where this greed can come through is with real estate agents.  They only get paid if the deal goes through so not all of them are quick to point out flaws in houses that might make a buyer think twice before making a purchase.  And a guilty pleasure of mine is watching the real estate agent shows on Bravo and I find it stunning how often the seller’s agents encourage clients to take an offer only to see the client say no and get much more money through a tough negotiation strategy.

In Illinois, there are a handful of lawyers who are also licensed real estate agents.  I used to be one although I never had an active real estate practice. One issue that came up is these lawyers were getting a commission for a sale going through, but then also getting a fee for reviewing the contract that they helped create and negotiating any issues.

It’s an inherent conflict of interest because it sets up the possibility that a lawyer might not suggest bailing on a deal that could otherwise earn him/her a good commission.

There is a law in Illinois that prevents this dual relationship and the Illinois Appellate Court agreed that it shouldn’t be allowed stating, “The lawyer’s financial interest in receiving the brokerage commission could cloud her independent judgment as a lawyer.”

It’s a basic regulatory safeguard designed to protect people from potential bad actors.  I’m sure that most professionals wouldn’t do the wrong thing, but it’s smart not to set up the possibility that they could do something which could harm you.

My advice to anyone buying a home is to ask their agent to tell you everything wrong with the home that you like.  If they can’t say anything then in my opinion they aren’t doing a good job for you.  You can already look up most listings online without an agent.  They should add some value to you.  If they can’t give blunt opinions then you probably should hire someone else.  And if they want to be your agent and your lawyer, you should run for the hills.