Did you know that not all real estate agents are REALTORS®? Being a REALTOR® requires a membership to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). With this membership comes additional fiduciary obligations to clients based on the NAR code of ethics. As your REALTORS®, we pledge the following:
Basically, you are the boss (as long as your request doesn’t violate the REALTOR’S® other ethical obligations). If your REALTOR® suggests a listing price or offer amount, you do not have to follow her advice. Your REALTOR® is there for guidance to help navigate the waters, not drive the boat for you. So don’t be afraid to speak up if you disagree with your REALTOR®; this is your show!
Your REALTOR® is obligated to look out for your best interests before her own. For example, she cannot steer you toward buying only listings that will compensate with bonuses or set up showings exclusively with her own listings. Your needs must be her top priority.
Disclosure is slightly different than the other obligations because it extends to people with whom the REALTOR® may not have a signed contract. For example, REALTORS® must disclose any known material facts about a property. If a buyer completes an inspection, shares it with the seller and then backs out of the purchase, that inspection should be shared with any future buyer.
A REALTOR® must keep her client’s information confidential indefinitely, not just until closing. While this may seem obvious, there can be some complicated situations. Perhaps a REALTOR® has two clients, both bidding on the same property. Or maybe a REALTOR® is working with a buyer to purchase a house owned by a previous client. It is important for any REALTOR® to be prepared for these types of situations to avoid a slip of the tongue.
You should be able to count on your REALTOR® to keep proper documentation and records on your behalf. In addition, your REALTOR® is responsible for handling any money passing through her hands (like earnest money) as required by the state. For example, your broker has three business days to deposit earnest money received from a prospective buyer into a specific account, not to be commingled with any other funds.
REALTORS® are expected to have a certain level of knowledge in order to advise and guide their clients through the buying or selling process. If she doesn’t have an answer to a particular question, she should have the resources to obtain an answer or refer the client to a trusted source.
Keep in mind that fiduciary obligation begins with a signed Buyers Representation Agreement (for buyers) or a Listing Agreement (for sellers), which is one good reason to sign a contract as soon as you are comfortable. Now that you know the fiduciary obligation your REALTOR® has to you, the truth is out. We are here to look after your best interests! Real estate can be an unpredictable field and having a professional guide you through each twist and turn is invaluable. If you have any questions about a REALTOR’S® fiduciary obligations, please feel free to reach out to me!
*The contents of this post are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.