WORKING WITH A REAL ESTATE AGENT
 

 

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:

  1. 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 decision.
  2. To obey all lawful instructions of the principal.
  3. An obligation to keep the confidences of the principal.
  4. The exercise of reasonable care and skill in performing all assigned duties.
  5. The duty to account for all money and property placed in an Agent's hands while acting for the principal.
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 and seller.

DUAL AGENCY
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:

  1. The agent will deal with the buyer and the seller impartially;
  2. The agent will have a duty of disclosure to both the buyer and the seller except that;
    1. 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;
    2. 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;
    3. the agent will not disclose personal information of either the buyer or seller unless authorized in writing;
    The agent will disclose to the buyer defects about the physical condition of the property known to the agent.

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 authorized

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.

DEFINITIONS
The Agent is the real estate company under which the individual salesperson in licensed.

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.

PRIVACY
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 mortgage brokers.

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 purposed:

  1. To allow members of real estate boards (including RealtorsŪ and appraisers) to appraise your property.
  2. To list your property with the Multiple Listings Service ® in order to market your property.
  3. To market your property for sale through any other media (both print and electronic).
  4. To help you locate a suitable property to purchase.
  5. To facilitate the purchase and sale transaction (by cooperating with financial institutions, legal adivsors and government departments and agencies).
  6. 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).
  7. 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).
  8. 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:

  1. Your RealtorŪ may communicate with you in future to determine whether you require additional real estate services.
  2. Your RealtorŪ may communicate with you to provide information about other products or services which may interest you.
  3. 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; December 2003.