While perusing the internet blogs last weekend, I came across a few questions that surprised me. “Why are there two agents at my closing, one for me (Buyer) and one for the seller?” Another lady, selling a house, wondered why a buyers’s agent continues to tour her house repeatedly, but only when her agent wasn’t available. It got me thinking that the various roles of a real estate agent can be complex and confusing. Common perception seems to be that any real estate agency represents me, whoever that agent might be. All agents are required to be fair and equitable to all people, client or not, but the agents representing your interests has to protect you as well. See what I mean? For instance, If an seller’s agent knows that the roof leaks every rainstorm, they’re required to disclose that information to prospective buyers, even though it hurts the seller’s(and the agent’s) position. A buyer’s agent’s job description is a selfless act alone. The buyer’s agent is tasked with getting the best(lowest) price and terms possible for their client. Lowest price means lowest commission. Basically, their job is to make sure they don’t make the most commission they can in a transaction. How’s that for fair and equitable?
That complexity could leave a client wide open to problems within their real estate transaction. With so much going on, I can see where a client’s eyes might glaze over a little when their agent explains their roles and responsibilities at the first face to face meeting.
I help people buy or sell homes in the South Shore of Massachusetts, particularly properties in Whitman, Hanson, Abington, Rockland and East Bridgewater. The rules set forth by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts settle on all Real Estate agents, active or inactive, in the State. At the first face to face meeting with a client, all agents in Massachusetts are required to explain who they represent, what their responsibilities are, and most importantly, where their loyalties lie. Then the client is asked to sign a form stating that the agent disclosed that info. The client can either sign and date it or check off the “Refused” box. This is important, because a real estate agent has a fiduciary (legal) responsibility to his client and the client needs to know where their agent stands and what their duties are. The loophole here is open houses. An open house agent doesn’t need to do that. They just need a sign stating their relationship posted someplace conspicuous at the open house.
Basically, There’s a host of people your real estate agent could be. Each one has a set of duties and responsibilities that may or may not represent your best interests. I try very hard to look at things from the clients perspective. It helps me represent them more effectively. If I can envision their particular situation and goals, I can figure out a realistic and effective path to advise them towards getting there. Massachusetts has evolved a set of roles with specific responsibilities for each of the roles. A real estate agent might change roles as a relationship with a particular client evolves or needs change. Basically, they break down to:
1. Buyer’s Agent(simple – represent the buyer’s interests)
2. Seller’s Agent(simple – represent the seller’s interests)
3. Dual Agent(Scary complex – Remain Neutral to both parties of a transaction)
4. Facilitator(Slightly less complex weave of neutrality and responsibility to assist and advise a single client with the transaction)
In classes and refreshers, we always talk at least a little about how an agent’s role can start off in one place and evolve into something else. My preferred teacher likes to keep things interesting and assigns us the task of making the most convoluted agency relationship timelines, then asks us to sort them out. Some of these are as intriguing as a Rubik’s cube, and just as convoluted. I won’t go that far, but over the next few posts, we’ll discuss, the various roles and what each owes it’s client.
Admit it….your eyes are already glazing over, aren’t they?
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater