REALTORS® work within a legal relationship called agency. The agency relationship is between you, the client or principal, and the individual licensee or REALTOR® designated as your sole agent. The essence of the agency relationship is that your REALTOR® has the authority to represent you in dealings with others.
Designated Agents are legally obligated to protect and promote the interests of their principals as they would their own. Specifically, the Designated Agent has the following duties:
- Undivided loyalty. The Designated Agent must protect the principal's negotiating position at all times, and disclose all known facts which may affect or influence the principal's decision.
- To obey all lawful instructions of the principal.
- An obligation to keep the confidences of the principal.
- To exercise reasonable care and skill in performing all assigned duties.
- To account for all money and property placed in a Designated Agent's hands while acting for the principal.
You can expect competent service from your Designated Agent, knowing that the Designated Agent is bound by ethics and the law to be honest and thorough in representing a property listed for sale or lease. Both buyer/tenant and seller/landlord can be represented by their own Designated Agents in a single transaction.
Dual agency occurs when a Designated Agent is representing both the buyer/tenant and the seller/landlord in the same transaction. Since the Designated Agent has promised a duty of confidentiality, loyalty and full disclosure to both parties simultaneously, it is necessary to limit these duties in this situation, if both parties consent.
If you find yourself involved in a dual agency relationship, before making or receiving an offer, both you and the other party will be asked to consent, in writing, to this new limited agency relationship.
This relationship involves the following limitations:
- The Designated Agent will deal with the buyer/ tenant and the seller/landlord impartially;
- The Designated Agent will have a duty of disclosure to both the buyer/tenant and the seller/landlord except that:
- the Designated Agent will not disclose that the buyer/tenant is willing to pay a price or agree to terms other than those contained in the offer, or that the seller/ landlord is willing to accept a price or terms other than those contained in the listing;
- the Designated Agent will not disclose the motivation of the buyer/tenant to buy or lease or the seller/landlord to sell or lease unless authorized by the buyer/ tenant or the seller/landlord;
- the Designated Agent will not disclose personal information, not otherwise necessarily disclosed in the transaction documentation, about the buyer/tenant or seller/landlord to the other party unless authorized in writing.
You may also choose to use the services of a REALTOR® without having any kind of agency relationship. This might occur, for example, when you are being shown a property by the seller/landlord's agent.
The REALTOR® you choose to work with in this manner has a legal and ethical duty to provide you with accurate, honest answers to your questions and may provide all these services:
- Explain real estate terms and practices
- Provide and explain forms used
- Assist you in screening and viewing properties
- Inform you of lenders and their policies
- Identify and estimate costs involved in a transaction
- Assist you in establishing your range of affordability
- Prepare offers or counter-offers at your direction
- Present all offers promptly
A REALTOR® who is not your agent cannot:
- recommend or suggest a price;
- inform you of his/her principal's top/bottom line; or
- disclose any confidential information about his/her principal unless otherwise authorized.
You should not provide a REALTOR® who is not your agent with any information that you would not provide directly to his or her principal.