Here’s a brief outline of some of the key things you need to know about working with a real estate agent.

Representation
Dual Representation

When we represent you, we agree to act on your behalf in certain ways. This happens when we both sign a contract for representation (usually, this is called a right to represent if you’re a tenant or a buyer and a listing agreement if you’re a landlord or a seller). You aren’t obligated to sign an agreement, but it’s important to understand that if you don’t sign a contract, you aren’t represented by us.

Why does that matter?

If we represent you, we have certain legal responsibilities, called “fiduciary duties” to you as our client. These are:

  • Loyalty: We will act only in your best interest
  • Obedience: We will carry out any legal instructions you make in regards to real estate
  • Disclosure: We will share any facts we know about a property that could affect your ability to use or enjoy it
  • Confidentiality: We will keep confidential information private
  • Reasonable Care: We’ll do our best to use our skill and experience to help you understand the real estate market and make the right decision
  • Accounting: We’ll carefully track any money you give us to hold in trust, and will release it only when authorized to do so

You aren’t obligated to sign a representation agreement, but bear in mind that if you don’t, we can’t represent you, and we owe you only the duties we have to the general public, not the duties listed here.

Dual representation happens when both sides of a deal are being represented by the same company. It’s a tricky situation because the two sides want different things. The buyer, for example, wants to get the lowest price possible, while the seller wants to get the highest.

If you refuse dual representation, you won’t have access to the properties we’re listing. On the other hand, if you agree to dual representation and make an offer on a property we’re listing, we won’t be able to help you negotiate and won’t be able to recommend a price for your offer.

Some clients agree to dual representation; some don’t. The choice is always yours.