WORKING WITH A REAL ESTATE AGENT
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH A REALTORŪ
Buying or selling real estate is probably the most important and potentially rewarding
financial transaction you'll make in your life. So it is a good idea to take a
moment and consider the kind of relationship you might be entering into with a
RealtorŪ. The more you know, the more satisified you will be with the results.
This information is provided to explain various types of agency relationships,
the collection, use and disclosure of personal information, and to help you understand
what it all means. If you are still unclear about theses concepts, feel free to
seek legal consel.
THE AGENCY RELATIONSHIP
RealtorsŪ work within a legal relationship called agency. The agency relationship
exists between you, the principal, and your Agent, the company under which the
individual salesperson who is representing you, is licensed. The essence of the
agency relationship is that the Agent has the authority to represent the principal
in dealings with others.
Agents and their salespeople are legally obligated to protect and promote the
interests of their principals as they would their own.
Specifically, the agent has the following duties:
You can expect competent service from your agent, knowing that the company is
bound by ethics and the law to be honest and thorough in representing a property
listed for sale. Their own agents in a single transaction can represent both buyer
- Undivided loyalty as the agent must protect the principal's negotiating position
at all times, and disclose all known facts which may affect or influence the principal's
To obey all lawful instructions of the principal.
An obligation to keep the confidences of the principal.
The exercise of reasonable care and skill in performing all assigned duties.
The duty to account for all money and property placed in an Agent's hands while
acting for the principal.
Dual agency occurs when a real estate agent is representing both buyer and seller
in the same transaction. Since the 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 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.
The relationship involves the following limitations:
- The agent will deal with the buyer and the seller impartially;
- The agent will have a duty of disclosure to both the buyer and the seller except
The agent will disclose to the buyer defects about the physical condition of the
property known to the agent.
- the agent will not disclose that the buyer is willing to pay a price or agree
to terms other than those contained in the offer, or that the seller is willing
to accept a price or terms other than those contained in the listing;
the agent will not disclose the motivation of the buyer to buy or the seller to
sell unless authorized by the buyer or the seller;
the agent will not disclose personal information of either the buyer or seller
unless authorized in writing;
WHERE THERE IS NO AGENCY RELATIONSHIP
You may also choose to use the services of a realtorŪ without having any kind of
agency relationship. This might occur, for example, when you are being shown a
property by the seller's agent.
The realtorŪ 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 can 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 realtorŪ who is not your agent cannot:
Recommend or suggest a price
Negotiate on your behalf
Inform you of his/her principal's top/bottom line
Disclose any confidential information about his/her principal unless otherwise
You should not provide a realtorŪ who is not your agent with any information that
you would not provide directly to his or her principal.
The Agent is the real estate company under which the individual salesperson
RealtorŪ is often used interchangeably with licencee, real estate
agent or salesperson and, in BC, is licensed under the Real Estate
Act. A RealtorŪ can use the term RealtorŪ if he/she belongs to a local
board or association that enforces a strict Code of Ethics.
The Boards are the real estate boards and associates in whose jurisdiction
the property is located and/or of which the Agent or the RealtorŪ is a member.
They are associations which assist RealtorsŪ to market and sell real estate.
The Boards also provide ongoing training for their members, enforce ethical
standards and help resolve disputes between members and the public.
The Multiple Listings Service ® is a computerized database of real
estate listings and sales. It is operated by the Board in conjunction with other
real estate boards and the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Personal Information means any personal information about you, including
your name, address, phone number, financial information and may include information
about your property (such as listings and selling price, listing term, etc.).
The Buyer is often referred to as the Purchaser.
The Seller is often referred to as the Vendor.
The Principal is someone who has engaged an Agent to act for and on
his or her behalf either to buy or sell real estate.
RealtorsŪ, Agents and real esate boards need to collect, use and disclose some
personal information to help you sell or buy real estate. We respect your privacy
and want to ensure you understand how and why your information is collected, used
and disclosed in a real estate transaction.
How is my personal information collected? Most personal information
will be collected directly from you through the contracts and other documents
you fill out (eg: Multiple Listing Contract, Contract of Purchase and Sale, seller's
Property Disclosure Statement) and through discussions you have with your RealtorŪ.
Some information may be collected from other sources such as government departments
and agencies (eg: Land Title Offices, BC Assessment), financial institutions and
To whom may my personal information be disclosed? Your information may
be disclosed to (or may be accessible by) the Boards and their staff and members,
other real estate boards and their staff and members, other RealtorsŪ and their
clients, government departments and agencies, financial institutions, legal advisors,
service providers, the British Columbia Real Estate Association, the Real Estate
Council of British Columbia, the Canadian Real Estate Association and members
of the public, for the purposes described below.
Not all of your information will be accessible to each of the above-mentioned
entities. For example, once the listing terms has ended, the general public will
not have access to your information unless it is otherwise available through public
registries (eg: BC Assessment, Land Title Offices).
PURPOSES FOR COLLECTING, USING AND DISCLOSING PERSONAL INFORMATION
Why is my personal information collected, used and disclosed? Your
information may be collected, used and disclosed for some or all of the following
- To allow members of real estate boards (including RealtorsŪ and appraisers)
to appraise your property.
To list your property with the Multiple Listings Service ® in order to market
To market your property for sale through any other media (both print and electronic).
To help you locate a suitable property to purchase.
To facilitate the purchase and sale transaction (by cooperating with financial
institutions, legal adivsors and government departments and agencies).
To allow the Boards and other real estate boards and their members (including
RealtorsŪ and appraisers) to compile current and historical statistics on sales
and proerty prices, and to conduct comparative market analyses. Information about
your property will be retained in the Multiple Listings Service ® for thse
purposes after your property has sold or your listings has expired (if you are
a seller) and after you have purchased your property (if you are a buyer).
To inforce codes of professional conduct and ethics for members of real estate
boards (by cooperating with real estate boards, the British Columbia Real Estate
Association, the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, The Canadian Real Estate
Association and other regulatory bodies).
To comply with legal requirements and to act pursuant to legal authorizations.
The above-mentioned collections, uses and disclosures are a necessary part of
your relationship with your RealtorŪ.
Will my personal information be collected, used and disclosed for any
other purposes? Your information may also be collected, used and disclosed
for the following additional purposes:
- Your RealtorŪ may communicate with you in future to determine whether you require
additional real estate services.
Your RealtorŪ may communicate with you to provide information about other products
or services which may interest you.
Other RealtorsŪ may communicate with you to determine whether you require additional
real estate services.
These additional purposes are optional. If you do not want your personal information
disclosed or used for these purposes, please contact the Board's privacy officer.
Contact information for all real estate boards within BC can be found at the British
Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) website: www.bcrea.bc.ca or telephone
604.683.7702, or toll free 1.877.361.3626.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A BUYER OR A SELLER
As a buyer or a seller, you should:
- Carefully read all documents and understand what you are signing.
If you need special or expert advice, seek other professionals such as lawyers,
notaries, accountants, home inspectors, contractors, engineers and surveyors.
Reprinted with permission from the British Columbia Real Estate Association "Working
With A Real Estate Agent; An Explanation Between You And A RealtorŪ" A154;