Who Does That Agent Work For?
We think who an agent works for is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts in Ohio's real estate arena, or at least it would seem that way based on the number of people that approach us directly about our listings.
And don't get us wrong, we'll answer questions all day long and do our best to facilitate selling that listing! But does that caller think we work for them? At the initial point of contact, it's a pretty clear NO. Our responsibilities are solely to the sellers and protecting their interest.
Some years ago Ohio introduced the "Consumer Guide to Agency Relationships", a two page form that clearly defines how agents work with the public. It's a mandatory form that needs to be presented at first substantive contact (exception made for open houses). You'll walk away with a copy of the form. It's NOT a contract obligating you to any actions, but merely as documentation that we've disclosed how we as agents work with the public.
What this means typically is when we first meet to talk the specifics of real estate regarding a property, we're producing this form. We'll explain the specifics of our roles as REALTORS® with respect to the public. How we align with you is pretty critical to understanding whether we're working for you, or you're totally unrepresented.
So here's the Cliff's Notes version of the form, and note this is ONLY valid in Ohio. Other states are TOTALLY different.
Representing Sellers. If you see a yard sign with our name on it, we represent the sellers. We've got a listing agreement signed and they have hired US to represent them. We'll even warn you that we're working for them, and if you still decide to proceed with seeing that listing, understand we're NOT like the Miranda rights, but the un-Mirandas. Anything you say CAN be used against you on behalf of our sellers. You're unrepresented and on your own. We'll be nice, BUT we ARE working for the sellers. Capiche?
Representing Buyers. You WON'T see our name on the sign (with special exception we'll cover later). Our job is help you find the just right home for you. YOU have hired us for that purpose. Our loyalty is now SOLELY to you. You like a particular home and want to purchase it, we'll be digging for leverage and advising you the best strategy to make it yours.
Dual Agency. This is totally different than the other two. You're pursuing a home with OUR name on the sign (or that of our specific RE/MAX brokerage) and you're also our buyer. Maybe we've been working with you for awhile and it just happens we've got a listing that matches you. Trust us, we'll show you ANY homes no matter the brokerage, but if ours happens to be a match we're obviously not going to say NO if you're interested.
Now at this point we enter into more of a neutral mode. We have to protect your confidential information AND that of the seller. We become more of an information conduit, a neutral facilitator of the process, working to bring the two sides together and following the process through negotiations, inspections and on to closing.
And we enter into dual agency ONLY with the agreement of both buyers and sellers, and you'll be signing paperwork to state that. And if either side isn't comfortable with dual agency, there's the option to bring in another agent to rep one side, or to have one party represent themselves without agent assistance. Again, this will be documented in writing on the Agency Disclosure Form.
So basically, we as agents can operate in three modes: Representing Sellers, Representing Buyers, or Representing Both Sides in Dual Agency. You as the consumer have a say in who we represent, and always remember WHO we are representing. It's in your own best interest to understand our role and yours too.
Serving Warren County's residential real estate needs,
Liz and Bill aka BLiz