Breaking it Down! with Mike
Two new forms have been issued by the Maryland Real Estate Commission (MREC) for IMMEDIATE USE. The changes to "Understanding Whom Real Estate Agents Represent" are broken down and discussed below.
Old vs. New
The old and new forms are very similar, and they communicate generally the same information, but with extra emphasis on some truly important items. Some of the changes, including bold and underlined text, seem to make the contents more obvious and draw the reader to the importance of the document’s contents.
When to Get the Form Signed
While it should always be the case, the new form makes it abundantly clear to both prospective clients and agents that this form should be given to the prospective client at the first face-to-face meeting. Immediately under the title of the document, and in bold print, it reads, “At the Time of the First Scheduled Face to Face Contact with You, the Real Estate Licensee Who is Assisting You is Required by Law to Provide this Notice to You.” This should certainly make people aware of the urgency of this form and of the requirement to provide it to the new client. They have also added, “This Notice is Not a Contract or Agreement and Creates No Obligation on Your Part.” This part should serve to reassure the new client that by signing this form they are only acknowledging receipt of the document and their understanding of the type of agency they are entering into with their new agent. Signing this form does not obligate them to anything.
Buyer-Tenant & Seller-Landlord Notice at the Beginning
Rather than writing “buyer or tenant” and “seller or landlord” throughout the document, MREC has added a line at the beginning that indicates seller includes landlord and buyer includes tenant. This statement, which is emphasized with italics, cleans up the document a bit and makes it somewhat easier to read.
Importance of Consent for Dual Agency
Another change is found between “Agent Who Represent the Seller” and “Agents Who Represent the Buyer” where they have added a bold and underlined statement, which reads, “If you are viewing a property listed by the company with whom the agent accompanying you is affiliated, and you have not signed a "Consent for Dual Agency" form, that agent is representing the seller.” This seems to indicate that MREC wants to be as clear as possible that dual agency is extremely important and perhaps a bit misunderstood. The Commission here makes it known to all that without a signed “Consent for Dual Agency” a buyer is not truly represented by their agent, but instead “their” agent actually represents the seller. It is crucial to have the “Consent for Dual Agency” signed in this situation to ensure that the buyer is receiving full representation.
Broker Supervision and Involvement
There seems to be an added interest in promoting Broker supervision as well. While the change in language is subtle, it makes a big impact. Where the document under “Dual Agents” used to read, “…the real estate company (the ‘dual agent’)… ,” it now reads, “…the ‘dual agent’ (the broker or the broker’s designee)… .” Changing the dual agent description from the “company” to “broker” emphasizes how important the brokers are in transactions to both agents and their clients.
Complaint Administrator & Solving Problems BEFORE they Happen
The Commission has also added a direct dial complaint number. In the past it was a general number, but now the complaint number goes directly to the Complaint Administrator, who is currently John West. The number on the form is 410-230-6206. Rightly, they are inviting the public to call directly to a person to share a complaint, making it obvious that they take real estate agents’ responsibilities to the public very seriously. Additionally, Mr. West openly invites agents and brokers to contact him directly at the number above or by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, to ask questions that could preemptively resolve issues.
Integrity in the Process
These changes to one simple form are very important to protecting the public and to helping agents do the best job they can when representing a client in a real estate transaction. It’s great that the Commission is so invested in protecting the integrity of the process and the rights and responsibilities of clients and agents.
Use the NEW Form NOW
The Maryland Real Estate Commission expects all agents and brokers to begin using the new forms immediately, so please be sure to comply - for your client's protection and yours. You can download it now at MREC's website.
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