When Coler founded the Buyer’s Broker of Southwest Florida in 1989, there was no disclosure mechanism in place in Florida to inform buyers that the agent they were working with was representing the seller. Therefore, if a buyer told the agent that he or she would offer $250,000 for a home, but would be willing to go to $300,000, the agent had a fiduciary responsibility to tell that to the seller.
“In those days, no one had even heard of exclusive buyer’s agents in residential real estate since they did not exist in Florida,” Coler recalled. “But after spending several days in the car looking at properties, buyers thought the agent worked for them and actually, in some cases, the agents did illegally assist the buyer to the detriment of their seller.”
Nationally, buyers and sellers started filing lawsuits when they realized this and found problems with the transaction or discovered they could have received a better price for the properties. Because of this vulnerability, and through the efforts of Coler and others like him, Florida put the proper disclosure requirements in place, and Florida brokers would inform the buyer through an agency disclosure form. However, those disclosures were abandoned in July of 2008 in favor of a “presumption of transactional brokerage.” Currently in Florida, all agents are presumed to be transactional agents for residential sales and no disclosure is required.
A transactional broker is a “facilitator” and does not represent either the buyer or seller in a fiduciary capacity or as a single agent. As a transaction broker, the listing agent no longer has a fiduciary responsibility to get the highest price and the best terms for the seller in exchange for the 6 percent real estate commission. Neither does the transactional broker have a responsibility to get the lowest price and the best terms for the buyer.
“Today in Florida, things are worse than they have ever been,” said Coler, who over 30 years has logged more than 20,000 hours as a Florida real estate instructor. “At least in the old days, the listing agent represented the seller. Now neither buyers nor sellers are represented by their agent unless otherwise stated in writing.”
The Buyer’s Broker of Southwest Florida is dedicated to representing only buyers. The brokerage does not list homes for sale and never represents sellers. This exclusive buyer representation in a real estate transaction avoids conflicts and ensures that the interests of buyers are protected at all times, from house-hunting and negotiation, to inspection, financing and closing, Coler explained.
The Buyer’s Broker of Southwest Florida covers the Gulf Coast region from south of Tampa Bay to Marco Island, and has represented many nationally known individuals who have purchased significant million-dollar properties and who remain anonymous to protect their privacy. In 22 years, the firm has never been involved in any litigation.
A licensed Florida real estate law instructor, Coler was an early advocate for buyer representation in Florida and introduced thousands of new Florida licensees to the buyer’s agent concept over the years, encouraging them to increase their professionalism, public image and knowledge of best practices.
A graduate of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management, Coler has a corporate, government and entrepreneurial background. He held executive positions with Texaco in the Caribbean and on the Ivory Coast, and IBM in Washington D.C., and was the former Chief of Staff for a United States Congressman.
Coler is a longtime member of REBAC, NAR, the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR), the Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR), the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) and the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA). He holds the REBAC Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) designation.
Prospective Hall of Fame inductees are nominated by fellow REBAC members and are selected by an independent panel of real estate industry leaders. Only five people will be inducted at the 2011 Hall of Fame ceremony, scheduled to be held in November.
Coler can be reached at (941) 366-1844 in Sarasota or (239) 649-1111 in Naples. Website: www.buyersbrokerswflorida.com.
About REBAC The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), was founded in 1988 to promote superior buyer representation skills and services. An affiliate of NAR since 1996, REBAC now numbers well over 30,000 in membership and is the world’s largest organization of real estate professionals concentrating on buyer representation. Members who meet all course and professional experiential requirements are awarded the ABR® (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) and/or ABRMSM (Accredited Buyer’s Representative Manager) designation(s). Both are the only designations of their type recognized by NAR. Telephone: (800) 648-6224. E-mail: REBAC@realtors.org. Website: www.REBAC.net.