What's my duty to you as a realtor?

By Vern McClelland

December 15, 2016 12:00 AM

In the real estate industry, a brokerage’s clients are sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants.
As a representative of that firm, the Realtor is expected to fulfill the duties and obligations of a relationship as detailed in a written agreement with the client.
Everyone understands the need for a listing contract for a property that is being placed for sale or lease.
However, the discussion of a written agreement to represent a client when searching for a property either to buy or lease seems to create tension.
Essentially the client is being asked to commit to a set of rules that assures the Realtor and their brokerage’s efforts will be respected.
Its purpose is to also protect both parties by defining the parameters of the relationship up front and this, my friends, is a good thing.
Many of the fiduciary duties and obligations of a Realtor are no different from those owed by all service professionals.
You expect him or her to exercise care and skill in fulfilling the agreed upon mandate.
For example, if you have retained me to help find a house within a particular price range and I don’t tell you about one that has come on the market just because it listed by another brokerage, would you think I was working in your best interest?
No, of course not.
Conversely, if you have asked me to provide you with a value on a property you are planning to sell and I am aware of comparable sales because they don’t match your expectations but don’t share that knowledge with you then have I done either of us any favors?
If you can’t trust me to be honest and adhere to facts, then how solid will our relationship be on a go forward basis?
The point I want to make here is that there is a difference between disclosing what we know or should be expected to know and recklessly or intentionally misrepresenting a property or omitting important details.
For example, I never list or write an offer on a property without first pulling its title. If there’s registered interest on that title that may impede the future owner’s ability to enjoy the property, then we will dig into it further before committing.
You would be surprised how many times people attempt to sell a property they don’t own exclusively.
Realtors are sometimes criticized after a sale because the previous owner didn’t disclose a material latent defect.
I always ask for a property condition disclosure statement on an owner-occupied house from the seller but shockingly, there are times when people attempt to deceive.
If I see indication of water damage or a cracked foundation, then you can be sure I will investigate, but how am I supposed to know that a seller had seepage into the basement after a torrential rain five years ago unless he tells me?
Experience does teach you some things though.
Like putting increased emphasis on the water supply and sewer disposal systems for country homes as an example. Asbestos materials in older houses. Current or proposed zoning in transition areas.
A Realtor is expected to take lawful direction from their client, after all, it is their money and future.
However, I believe any experienced professional should not be afraid to offer some coaching advice when needed.
Personally, I always warn my clients that I reserve the right to provide my perspective on any matter pertaining to the mandate given me by the working agreement we have between us.
Whether they chose to listen to my advice is up to them. The ultimate decision on how to proceed will be theirs, as will be the outcome achieved.
If I really don’t agree with the direction we are going, then realistically I have a couple of choices.
Carry out the instructions as received, but only if it is legal and ethical. Just because I believe one way to be better than another, I may not be right in this case.
Or withdraw my services so they can get another representative who has a view in line with their thinking.
Yes, I have been fired by clients, but I’ve also let an equal number of clients go.
Over the years, you learn you don’t want them all, and neither do you need them all.
I believe trust is fundamental to all healthy relationships.
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

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