Real Estate Agents are always put in a position of representing somebody. Most of us tend to think of an agent as either representing the seller or the buyer. Pennsylvania law requires that once an agent meets a consumer for the first time and there is a “significant discussion of real estate” that we are required to give them a written disclosure regarding the different kinds of representation that we can provide. The client has to acknowledge that disclosure in writing. It doesn’t bind the client to the agent. It’s just that it proves that the agent has done his or her due diligence in complying with the law. There is no contract at this time.
There is also the tricky position an agent is put in if a consumer calls the real estate office for the first time and begins to engage in a “significant discussion regarding real estate”. There is particular language that an agent must use and disclose to the consumer again regarding representation. To say the least it can get to be a little unusual and uncomfortable for both parties especially if the customer is just calling to find out where the property is or whether it has 3 or 4 bedrooms. We are not lawyers but sometimes you wonder how close we come. It really gets complicated if you have to explain the differences between buyer, seller, transaction brokerage(No representation) or Dual or Designated Agency. Dual Agency is when the client purchases the listing agent’s property and Designated Agency is when the client wants to purchase another home through the agent’s office listed by a fellow agent in that office. Oh yeh, that puts the broker of the company in a dual agency position.
Did you get all that? I can assure that even some experienced agents don’t get it. Where does the rapport development come in? Where does the need determination start by the agent? I have to ask you some questions. I don’t want to interrogate you like we are in some court. There is this “dance” that occurs between the agent and the potential client. I want to comply with the law but I don’t want to offend the customer.
Let me get back to that “little secret” that will help you in negotiating with either the buyer or seller in a transaction. When you decide you want to either buy or sell a home and you are checking out agents to assist you. Ask them right up front “Are they going to represent you” In other words are they going to work for you on your behalf. Are the going to keep everything you tell them confidential, are they going to use their negotiating skills to get you the best deal possible. Do this up front and before you give them any information ask them to put that obligation in writing. In the case of the home for sale , a listing contract that will spell out their obligation to work on your behalf to get the highest and best price for your home. In the case of the buyer, a buyer agency contract that obligates the agent to find you the best home for the best price. In either case, you the consumer make the final decision. But the point is, if you do this up front in writing then you have something that you can enforce if you feel that the agent isn’t representing you in your best interests.
The written contract is usually not a problem with a listing,that is, an owner who wants to sell his or her home. No one is going to do anything regarding the marketing of that home until there is contract. Representing a buyer is a usually a different story. A lot of buyers do not want to feel obligated to one agent. Fine shop around, but one more little secret,do not disclose any personal information as far as your financial, bottom line pricing or other personal information, until you have a contract with that agent. As far as a fee you can negotiate that in with the Buyer’s Agency Contract , so that the fee can actually come from the seller at the time of settlement.
I guess as a final note and it isn’t any secret , before you pick someone, make the contacts, make sure they provide you with Consumer Notice , understand representation, make the agent commit in writing and then discuss confidential information.
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