I work in real estate. If a broker makes a property known publicly that is for sale and after seeing their advert I want to contact the seller directly which will allow me to avoid paying a brokerage fee, am I allowed to do this?
Unless the seller gave the broker an exclusive on this property, then there is no halachic problem.
This is because there is simply no “stealing” involved. The mere fact that the broker publicized the property is insufficient to accord him the status of “broker”. Since he didn’t facilitate this transaction, then he isn’t deserving of any brokerage fee.
In support, I refer to a similar case in the sefer “Mishpitei HaTorah” (2:37), where the author, Rabbi Tzvi Shpitz, comes to the same conclusion.
He argues that the status of “broker” is only earned when the person connects the buyer and seller. Merely advertising a property is insufficient to convey the status of “broker” to the advertiser, just as the newspaper publisher wouldn’t be entitled to “brokerage”, just because he happened to have published the details of the property for sale.
Rabbi Shpitz concludes that the broker has only himself to blame for releasing the proprietary information in his possession (the exact details of the property location). He should have realized that once this information is made public, then he has no way of proving that eventual buyer happened to buy the property due to his “brokerage”.
Kollel Toras Zeraim HALACHA
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