More often than you’d expect, homeowners refer to the person they bought their insurance from as their agent. It sounds reasonable but it’s definitely not accurate. That person is the agent of the insurance company and they legally represent the company, not the customer. Even an independent agent who can place a policy with different companies is still an agent of the company.
A mortgage officer, in most cases is an employee and represents the company. And the same is true for a title or escrow officer. It’s important to understand the actual relationship to know what you can expect from them. Any business person who wants to stay in business must treat their customers fairly and with a high degree of service. As a customer, you should be able to reasonably expect honesty and accountability. The difference is that employees owe their loyalty to their employer and agents owe their loyalty to their principal.
An agent owes more than just honesty and accountability. The principal can expect complete disclosure, obedience, loyalty, reasonable skill and care and confidentiality from their agent. This advocacy is very beneficial during the buying or selling process to coordinate all aspects of the transaction. The agent can bring valuable experience to your side of the transaction to provide confidence that your best interests are being represented from start to finish.
Most states have a recognized procedure for the real estate professional to create a formal relationship between themselves and a buyer or seller. This requires a fiduciary/statutory responsibility that places the principals’ interests above the agent’s own personal interests.
In Massachusetts real estate brokers and salespeople/agents are required to provide consumers the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure form at the first personal meeting with you to discuss a specific property. The form explains the types of agency an agent can provide. Although, this has been mandatory for years, many buyers who have looked at properties with other agents often tell me they have never seen the form! Consumers have a right to know who an agent represents.
Additionally, while a home seller is required to sign a written agreement in order to list their home for sale with a REALTOR (member of the National Association of Realtors), it is also in a buyer's best interest to have a written agreement with an agent who is going to represent them as a buyer agent. It clarifies expectations so there are no surprises or misunderstanding about responsibilities and makes for a less stressful transaction. Here are some of the other advantages of a written buyeragency agreement.
About the author: Marilyn Messenger is a local broker associated with Andrew Mitchell and Company, Concord. She has been representing buyers and sellers in Concord, Wayland, Sudbury, Maynard, and the towns west of Boston since 1993. She is a Certified Residential Specialist (less than 4% of Realtors have achieved the CRS® designation), an Accredited Buyer Representative and is an active member of the Real Estate Buyer Agency Council. Messenger is also a Certified Luxury Homes Marketing Specialist and a Million Dollar Guild Member. Visit www.MarilynMessenger.com.
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