Q: This is a comment about your article in this past Sunday’s Oregonian about “buyer’s agents.” This area is one of my pet peeves as an attorney.

As a matter of law, unless the buyer is paying the “agent” from the buyer’s own pre-sale funds and the “agent”; expects to be paid from the proceeds of the sale, then the "agent" is by definition an agent of the seller only.

No one ever tells the buyer this until it is too late. In my opinion, it is unethical and fraudulent for people being paid by the seller to claim that they are representing the buyer’s best interests. While such people may have the purest of motives, the bottom line is that someone being paid by a seller, whose interests are necessarily in direct conflict with those of the buyer, can not represent the interests of the buyer. The conflict of interest is inherent and inescapable. Thank you for listening.

A: I’ll agree with you that it’s a murky legal issue, but as you well know, states have tried to get around the representation thing by coming up with laws that require buyers and sellers to sign documents acknowledging who represents who in the deal. Agency disclosure agreements require the buyer to sign off on a document in which the agent states “I represent you, the buyer, because I fully disclose to you and the world that in this transaction I am a buyer’s agent.”

Whether this clears up the confusion or causes more of it, I don’t really know. Thanks for taking the time to write.