It may be obvious to you what is a real estate agent- but the industry is very concerned about making sure you know exactly what an agent does and what duties they owe their customers, clients, and the public.
One way they do that is by requiring the public to view and acknowledge the CONSUMER NOTICE before giving information to an agent. Basically, it just lets you know you’re talking to a professional- and depending on if you’re represented by that professional, what they can do with that information.
So first, the notice covers the different types of agency you can enter into when working with a real estate agent. Those are Seller Agent, Buyer Agent, Dual Agent, and Designated Agent.
A seller agent represents a seller in the transaction and acts in a way that is in the seller’s best interest. They are to make a continuous and good faith effort to find a buyer for the property. They have a duty to keep confidential any confidential information provided by the seller, except for disclosing material defects.
The buyer agent (and his or her company) work exclusively for the the buyers and in their best interest. They must provide a good faith effort to find a property for the buyers. They have a duty to keep the buyer’s confidential information confidential.
A dual agent works for both the buyer and the seller. They may not do anything that is adverse or detrimental to either party.
When a broker is representing both parties, he or she can designate one agent to represent the buyer and another agent to represent the seller. The broker acts as a dual agent, but must take reasonable steps to make sure confidential information is not shared within the company.
A transaction licensee represents neither buyer nor seller and is only hired to facilitate the transaction. While they do not have a duty of confidentiality, they are not allowed to disclose how much a seller would be willing to take, how much a buyer would be willing to offer, or what other terms would be acceptable other than what was agreed on.
What Agents Owe All Customers
Regardless of agency, the real estate commission has a list of duties agents owe all customers:
- Exercise reasonable professional skill and care which meets the practice standards required by the RELRA
- Deal honestly and in good faith.
- Present, as soon as practicable, all written offers, counteroffers, notices, and communications to and from the parties. This duty may be waived by the seller where the seller’s property is under contract and the waiver is in writing.
- Comply with the Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law.
- Account for escrow and deposit funds.
- Disclose, as soon as practicable, all conflicts of interest and financial interests.
- Provide assistance with document preparation and advise the consumer regarding compliance with laws pertaining to real estate transactions.
- Advise the consumer to seek expert advice on matters about the transaction that are beyond the licensee’s expertise.
- Keep the consumer informed about the transaction and the tasks to be completed.
- Disclose financial interest in a service, such as financial, title transfer and preparation services, insurance, construction, repair or inspection, at the time service is recommended or th first time the licensee learns that the service will be used.
Negotiable Terms Between Agent and Consumer
These terms are negotiable between the licensed agent and consumer and must be addressed in an agreement/disclosure statement:
- The duration of the licensee’s employment, listing agreement or contract.
- The licensee’s fees or commission.
- The scope of the licensee’s activities or practices.
- The broker’s cooperation with and sharing of fees with other brokers.
Its also good to know that before you disclose any financial information to a licensed agent, the agent is not representing you unless signed in written agreement. A business relationship is NOT presumed.
For more information we recommend checking out the Consumer Notice as adopted by the real estate commission.