What is the difference between a Client and Customer in Katy TX?
Just within the last few weeks I have had a couple of situations where both clients and potential clients were confused with the concept of Client and Customer relationships with a Realtor. This is the seventh blog in my series of 10 blogs looking at frequently asked questions by clients. The Customer versus Client discussion is all part of the Agency Relationships which exist in the State of Texas and probably in many other states.
A Customer in very simple terms is any person who is not represented by an Agent but can and will receive information and assistance from a licensed agent in Texas. A Client is a person whom the licensed agent through a written agreement signed by both parties has agreed to represent. A Client relationship creates a fiduciary relationship between the Client and the Agent. There is no fiduciary relationship when a Customer relationship has been established. My example I always use is when you go to Target or Wal-Mart the individuals working at these retailers have a customer relationship with you and you are not a Client.
A Buyer who is a customer and not a client can expect some of following types of services: providing the customer with information about and showing the customer properties; disclosing any known defects; preparing a written offer; helping with inspections, surveys, etc.; assisting the customer with obtaining financing; assisting with solving problems. The agent does not negotiate the deal or provided specific market information or opinions to the customer. This means that the agent cannot advise the customer as how much they should offer on any given property or what comparable properties n that neighborhood have sold for in the recent past. In fact the agent cannot provide any details about past offers for the property, seller’s motivation regarding selling, or commenting in any regard which would be detrimental to the seller’s position. When you call a Real Estate office the agent who provides you with information even though this agent might work for a Broker that is not the listing agency Broker actually represents the sellers unless you agree to appoint him or her as your agent.
I personally find it very difficult to have a customer relationship. The Broker I work for expects us to have Client relationships and not Customer relationship and that relationship needs to be completed prior to showing that client any specific properties.
A fiduciary is any person who has a very high duty of care for another person or Client. Texas law requires the fiduciary places the Clients interest ahead of his or hers individual interest. The Client is number one and the Agent has a responsibility to convey any and all facts he or she has regarding any property, situation, personnel and etc. Fiduciary relationships exist in many different cases such as with Attorney’s, CPA’s, trustees, and of course Real Estate Agents. A licensed agent also has a duty of fairness and honesty to all parties involved in any Real Estate Transaction.
The State of Texas requires at that at the first substantive dialogue with a client, or potential client the agent provide the client or potential client with a form titled “Information about Brokerage Services” or (IBS). The form contains statutory information relating to the various brokerage services which are available to any person. The term substantive dialogue is any meeting or written communication which discusses a specific real property. This includes E-mail or any other electronic means (text). I give my clients an overview of the IBS when we first meet or when we discuss a specific property via E-mail or any other type of communication.