We all want to feel safe and know that someone has our best interests at heart. To know that someone is going to ensure that we are protected from others and even from ourselves. These same feelings hold true in the business world as well, especially Real Estate where we can be blinded by emotion.
Whether you are buying or selling your home, land, or investment cabin you need to understand exactly what role your REALTOR is playing. I don't say this with any deceitful implications, it is just important to know that there are 3 main ways that a REALTOR can represent people in a Real Estate transaction. If your Real Estate Agent is worth their salt they will explain each of these roles to you, which one they will be assuming, and what conditions would cause it to switch from one role to another.
The Duties of EVERY Real Estate Agent
Every licensed REALTOR owes the following duties to every Buyer, Seller, Tenant, and Landlord:
1) To use professional skill and care in providing services.
2) To disclose any adverse facts (any significant property defects, or information that a party will not fulfill contractual obligations) of which licensee has actual notice or knowledge.
3) To maintain confidentiality of any information obtained from you (other than adverse facts that must be disclosed **See #2) prior to the licensees disclosure of an agency's relationship with someone in a transaction. This responsibility continues after any agency relationship and/or after the closing of the transaction.
4) To provide services with honesty and good faith.
5) To provide timely and accurate information, by request, on market conditions related to a transaction.
6) To account for earnest money deposits and other property received from any party to a transaction.
7) To not engage in self dealing, conflicts of interest, or representation of a family member or other entity in which the licensee has a prior interest, without proper disclosure.
As stated above, those 7 duties are to be followed and upheld by every REALTOR regardless of their designation. If a REALTOR becomes an Agent or Designated Agent in a transaction then they must still follow the above duties as well as these additional duties to his/her client:
1) To obey all lawful instructions of the Client within the scope of the Agency agreement between the licensee and the Client, and
2) To be loyal to the Client's interests by placing those interests before all others in negotiations of a transaction and in other activities, as long as the licensee does not violate any of the basic duties owed to all customers.
3) Unless the following duties are specifically and individually waived in writing by a client, Licensee shall assist the client by:
- Scheduling all property showings on behalf of the client.
- Receiving all offers and counter offers and forwarding them promptly to the client.
- Answering any questions that the client may have in negotiation of a successful purchase agreement within the scope of the licensee's expertise.
- Advising the client as to whatever forms, procedures, and steps are needed after execution of the purchase agreement for a successful closing of the transaction.
Three Ways A Realtor Can Represent You In Tennessee
Designated Agent For The Seller: This is a written agency agreement between the licensee and the seller. This agreement states that the REALTOR is working for the seller, and ONLY the seller. **This is very important as a potential buyer to understand. If you call the listing agent of a home you are interested in and they are entered into this agreement with their sellers then the only interests that they are required to protect are their sellers. This makes it very important to obtain your own representation.
Designated Agent For The Buyer: Conversely, this written agency agreement is between the licensee and the buyer. This agreement states that the REALTOR is working solely for you , the buyer. Protecting and representing your best interests before, during, and after the closing transaction takes place.
Both the Designated Seller's Agent and the Designated Buyer's Agent are required by entering into contract to protect your interests, even if the other side of the deal is being represented by someone in their own office.
Facilitator: Of the 3, Facilitator is the least common. This typically will happen when a REALTOR is actively acting as a Designated Agent for the Seller and brings a buyer to the table. In this case the licensee (REALTOR) can remove themselves from the Designated Seller's Agent and take on the role of Facilitator. This move must be approved by the seller either in the Confirmation of Agency paperwork or at the time of presenting the potential buyer. A Facilitator is a neutral party with no one person's interest taking precedence over another's. Essentially their role is to guide each party through the legal aspects and steps of the process. Technically, every REALTOR that you may work with is acting in this role until you enter into a written agency agreement for the buyer or seller.
You can read a copy of the REALTOR Code of Ethics for the Great Smoky Mountains Association of Realtors here: http://gsmar.org/FORMS_PDF/2009Code.pdf
I take great pride in my ethics and morals. I value this profession and the people that I have the privilege of working with immensely. If you are in the market to sell or buy real estate in the Great Smoky Mountains area of East Tennessee then let me
tell show you how hard I will work for you.