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I’m not much for fish, except for eating them, but on a recent getaway I watched my husband try to catch us some supper. I learned a thing or two in the process. To catch the fish, you have to troll in the weeds (water version), but those weeds can easily break a line -- and everything, including potential supper, is lost.

We realtors are fiduciaries for our clients. We are not only morally inclined to represent our clients' best interests, but also legally obligated to do so. Real estate involves its own version of trolling in the weeds, but part of our fiduciary role is helping clients avoid getting stuck in them.

Many months and many hours down the road, a buyer client becomes more and more aware of the pitfalls of the house they have under contract. They wish to back out. Their agent spends a bit more time working for them -- this time working to get them released from the contract. It's lots of work, no money, but the client is taken care of and untangled from the weeds. That’s what a fiduciary does.

The agent showed his buyer a good handful of carefully selected homes. Like the previous buyer, clients have very particular wishes and needs they are working together to meet. Then, their friend suggests building with a certain builder, one that is their friend. The buyer changes path and signs a contract with said builder without the agent’s knowledge. Agent is no longer clients’ fiduciary. He is concerned about the builder (think overages), the lack of diligence in comparing options, and the lack of buyer’s knowledge of the process and its pitfalls. He cares. He cannot help. It would have cost the buyer little, if any, dollars to keep the agent involved. The buyer is trolling in the weeds and does not yet know it.

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The price of fiduciary representation is little; the price of its absence could be very expensive. New construction or existing, an agent is priceless.

As for my fisherman, as one who has not had much time to practice the art, he did indeed get caught in the weeds. His experienced fisherman companion got him untangled, ready to try again another day, but we had brats for dinner.

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