Understanding Whom the Agent Represents (Maryland)

By
Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Redwood DC-SP98366576

I don't blame first time home buyers. The amount of information out there about buying a home has got to be over whelming.

Think about it, once a first time buyer has garnered the courage to actually speak with an agent, they are setting the stage for more confusion. You see, in Maryland, the law requires that you inform folks of certain information at your first scheduled meeting. You have to be told about whom the agent represents, you have to have dual agency explained and you have to decide whether you want the agent to represent you.

These are not my rules. These are not any brokers rules. These are not ReMax's rules. Nope, this is the law in the State of Maryland.

In their infinite wisdom, the powers that be have provided agents with documents to be signed by their clients. As with all documents, they were designed by attorneys that have mastered the art of obfuscating the obvious while covering the rear end of the industry that hired them.

How quickly so many agents forget how "foreign" the documents sound. I have been told that some agents just don't bother with the documents anyway. It seems they feel if they present forms at the first meeting, the prospect will shake their head and walk out the door.

They would rather "wing" it, violate the law and hope that no one notices.

Many of them have the documents signed while preparing an offer. It is much easier to just stick them in the large pile and have them signed at that point.

IT IS WRONG.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SIGN THAT YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT IS TRANSPIRING, YOU ARE BEING DENIED YOUR RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER.  DO YOU REALLY WANT TO WORK WITH SOMEONE THAT BEGINS THE RELATIONSHIP VIOLATING YOUR RIGHTS?

After initial introductions are accomplished and refreshments are offered.........you must receive a document that resembles this:

LF1731LF1731

 

Now that is a lot of small print to absorb while sitting in a strange office with someone you just met. They just sit there smiling while your mind races, scanning legal terms and hoping that the door behind you is not locked.  Usually, the agent will point out...this is information required by law and it is not a contract. They may even act as if signing it carries no weight.

HOLD ON GRASSHOPPER

It does matter. It is important. You are acknowledging that the information was presented to you. If you check the bottom area of the form, it tells you that you should understand everything that you sign. I think you should know what is going on as well. I believe the law is in place to protect consumers. I really hope that any buyer understands that skirting the law is never the best route to take.

In short, if you do not have a written agreement with an agent, they do not contractually represent you. Your relationship is "assumed". They can show you properties (except those listed with their broker). They can not negotiate. They can not advise. They can not prepare an offer. Actually, a presumed agent is nothing more than a cab driver that has access to homes not listed with his/her broker.

The next level up the food chain is the cooperating agent.  You will not have agreed to dual agency ( see post on dual agency). Oh, and they will represent the seller of the home. Yes, you read that right. The cooperating agent represents the seller. Now, that always perplexes me. Why would anyone that understood their legal right, use a cooperating agent. It would seem to me that if your options are explained to you, you would opt for the one that offers you the most protection and representation.

I have to mention the listing agent. You have no protection as a buyer when you ask the listing agent to write an offer for you.  There is a misconception that you will be saving money.  The amount you believe you are saving is actually minimal in most cases and in every case... you are making the biggest purchase of your life without the benefit of representation.

The only way to be completely represented is to sign an exclusive right to represent agreement.  If signing a contract makes you feel uncomfortable, limit the terms of the agreement.  The consumer has every right to limit his relationship with an agent to specific homes viewed or to all homes viewed on a specific day, etc.  Rather than lose the benefit of representation, control the representation.  

It is much more effective to hire the agent and be specific about the limits of that contract than it is to view homes without an agreement.  It is also important to note that the agreement is binding on all parties.  The agreement does state that the buyer is responsible the fees the agent will earn.  Most agreements indicate that the buyer agent will reduce them amount that is due them by the amount of money that is offered as a co-op fee in the listing.  The contract protects the buyer.

In Maryland, we allow dual agency.  Most people get it very confused.  The buyer's factual relationship is with the broker their agent works under.  The broker also has the ultimate relationship with the seller in homes listed with the broker.  If a buyer wishes to purchase a home that is listed with the broker that is also the broker for their agent, the broker becomes what is called a dual agent.  The broker will receive the commission proceeds from the sale and the broker will determine how those proceeds are shared with the agents.  

Dual agency has nothing to do with an agent attempting to sell his own listing to a buyer. The agent CAN NOT represent both sides of the transaction.

This is a brief overview of Agency in Maryland.  If you have any questions, I will be glad to answer. Feel free to call me at 301-509-5111

 

 

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  1. Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh 03/01/2010 10:04 AM
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Rainer
207,119
Duane Murphy
Expert Real Estate Partners LLC - Appleton, WI
Broker- Owner-Real Estate -

John- Great information for buyers in Maryland. I can see why you should be thier first call.

Feb 26, 2010 04:14 AM #1
Ambassador
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Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

In CT we also must have the buyer's agency forms signed, but not dual agency until it comes up in our showings, or interest.    I try to make the forms sound a little less intimidating, and have a little fun with the whole process.  It's daunting, to say the least, for the first time home buyer.

Feb 26, 2010 04:17 AM #2
Rainmaker
431,912
Shanna Hall
Real Estate Solutions - Kirkwood, MO
I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311

We have had to do this for years...  It has never beena problem.  You will get used to it;)  Goodluck!

Feb 26, 2010 04:21 AM #3
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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I've never had trouble with the forms, but I know a lot of agents do.  I also don't have any trouble working with a customer, until they ask agency level questions and then I let them know the difference.

 

Feb 26, 2010 04:45 AM #4
Rainmaker
642,950
Susan Mangigian
RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A - West Chester, PA
Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches

I don't have a problem going over the forms with buyers on our first meeting.  I do not require that they sign them at that time.  I just ask that they go over it with me at the first meeting, take them home, and get them back to me the next time we meet.  It gives them some breathing room and I fulfill my end of the law.

Feb 26, 2010 05:04 AM #5
Rainmaker
223,010
John MacArthur
Century 21 Redwood - Washington, DC
Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes

I hope that the post does not leave the impression that I have difficulty with this system. I don't think the information should a surprise to agents in Maryland.  We have been using these forms for over 10 years. I do think it is important that consumers have access to the information.

Feb 26, 2010 06:08 AM #6
Rainmaker
716,033
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

I don't know why so many agents don't do this. I have had buyers say.."but I was out looking two years ago with someone and they NEVER asked me to sign anything!"  Huh??? Agency disclosure was the law in NYS two years ago...What gives?

Feb 26, 2010 07:40 AM #8
Rainmaker
526,628
Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh
Century 21 New Millennium - Upper Marlboro, MD
A doctor who makes house calls.

Hey John - I am going to reblog this.  I always present this on the first meeting.  However, it does not stop some buyers from thinking that they can save money if they work directly with the listing agent.  It frightens me to think of buyers going through this alone when the other side has representation.

Feb 26, 2010 08:37 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,431,110
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good post and good points.  Always follow the law, taking short cuts is not worth it.

Feb 26, 2010 02:59 PM #10
Rainer
132,299
Larry Riggs
Century 21 Redwood - Frederick, MD
GRI, SRS Your Frederick County Specialist

John,

    It's always been my experience that how the agent presents this form makes all the difference. I present the form as good information for the clients to have and they are always receptive. Only once (when this form first became law) did I have a buyer refuse to sign. Again, I think that was because I didn't properly present it.

Feb 28, 2010 12:24 AM #11
Ambassador
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

John, I think it's important for buyers and sellers to get it.  At the same time, I really want to get at those forms with an edit!

Mar 02, 2010 10:40 AM #12
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John MacArthur

Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes
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