Because dual agency can be clearly labeled, identified anddisclosed, my real estate advisors often tried to put the issue tobed relatively early in the process. But dual agency made a poorbedmate and I still had many a sleepless night. The serviceproviders I hired would try to reassure me that their knowledge ofboth sides of the deal was an advantage in representation and innegotiations. Frankly, I didn't see the tenant's advantage in thatscenario. To me, it was like getting a stock recommendation from aninvestment advisor whose firm held a position in that particularsecurity. Will the stock go up because it's a good investment orbecause the investment advisor is positioning to get out and usingmy investment as a means to an end?

In the underlying real estate agreements, my service providerswould mitigate and make provisions for potential conflicts ofinterest. But in each contract, the language implied that I was theone with the problem. The contract would indicate that conflictissues were not real, just a matter of "client perception." Myadvisors would tell me to relax--there was no overlap, nocommunication, and if necessary, they would be happy to sign aseparate confidentiality agreement. Well, my pile ofconfidentiality agreements made for a lousy pillow and I continuedto toss and turn at night.

Dual agency isn't the only conflict factor in corporate realestate. For example, a real estate services firm that representsboth landlords and tenants may use their history of success infilling a particular building with tenants as a means to get afuture listing from the building owner. Your broker may convinceyou that the piece of dirt for your plant is a great buy and it'sowned by the church he or she attends. Does either exampleconstitute a conflict? Does either example require disclosure? Aconflict can exist when the person who is representing you has anyinterest in anything towards which your decision is oriented. Manyof those types of conflict are not clearly identifiable and most goundisclosed.

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