Who is representing you?
Our job as a listing agent is to represent the party we represent, the seller. That may sound obvious but often we encounter situations where other people, consumers or buyer agents think we represent them or should do when in fact we represent our client, the seller.
That representation means we will do our best to obtain the highest price we can in the time frame the seller wants with the best terms for the seller and offering compensation to buyer agents the seller has agreed upon in the listing agreement.
Our fiduciary duty, is the highest level of care you can give according to the Wex Legal Dictionary and if breached we can be sued for damages even when no harm came to the principal or their heirs. This duty is offered to encourage people to specialize and that people will enter into a fiduciary relationship. The law reduces the risk of abuse of a principal by the fiduciary.
This can be offered to a seller as a listing agent and to a buyer as a buyer's agent. As a consumer you WANT this sort of relationship because it protects you from abuse.
As a buyer you may think dealing with the listing agent is smart. IT ISN'T. They have a duty to the seller and their duty is to the seller not you. They have NO duty to get you a lower price or better terms. The listing agreement already lays out the terms of the listing and if you use the listing agent, if the agreement even allows that, all you do is earn the listing agent/broker more money and you are unprotected and have no one protecting your interests. You may think you know enough, but as I often say to clients, we earn our money after the contract is signed making sure the deal goes to settlement and closing. There are many hurdles that arise which need to be overcome and that is what we do as agents.
As an agent, fiduciary duty puts the clients interests ahead of my own. Now that means, even though I am going to earn two commissions I can do nothing which will hamper or damage my client. When you talk with any attorney they cannot understand Real Estate Agents ever handling dual agency because you cannot offer both parties the same level of care and duty. So when a buyer or another agent calls my duty is to my seller, or principal, not my self. Their needs come before my own. It is my duty to gather information which helps my seller obtain the best terms for themselves. So, buyers be careful what you say and to whom, loose lips costs money.
When I am a buyers agent I work for the buyer, it is my duty to gather as much information as I can that will help my buyer to get the best terms and price, it is ahead of my compensation. I have had agents complain about what is offered as compensation before they bring an offer but not before showing a home. The Code of Ethics compels you to negotiate compensation before you show a home, not before you make an offer. Do I really believe if my seller offers 0.5% more compensation the buyer is going to offer more money to buy the house, not once has an agent who complained put forward an argument that involves their clients needs, only their own.
When I sit down with my buyers we discuss compensation, minimums, how that is paid and who is representing whom in a transaction. It allows us to discuss how we will handle a home offered by an owner direct, a For Sale By Owner and how our offer will be structured to give the buyer the best chance of owning the home of their desires.
We discuss what making an offer entails, from mortgage pre-approvals to the paperwork involved and what the responsibility of the client is in this as well.
So please make sure you know who is representing whom? Make sure you know if you are represented? You should have signed a buyer agency or listing contract which lays out the terms of that representation. In Pennsylvania you should have also signed the Consumer Notice which is not a contract but a State disclosure form.
PLEASE make sure you ARE REPRESENTED. If you need Main Line Realtor representation as a seller or a buyer please give us a call so we can sit down and discuss your needs and how we can represent you correctly.
If you are buying or selling on or around Tredyffrin Easttown or along the Main Line we can help you, contact us or connect
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