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What is a "Buyers Agent?"

Buyer's Agent - When a buyer engages the services of a real estate agent to purchase property, that realtor becomes the agent for the buyer who then becomes the agent's client. The agent owes the buyer undivided loyalty, reasonable care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accountability provided, however, that the agent must disclose known matereial defects in the real estate. The agent must put the buyer's interest first and negotiate for the best price and terms for his/her client, the buyer.

Put into perspective, all realtors have traditionally worked for the sellers as "sellers agents." When showing homes to prospective buyers the realtor was actually working for the seller and not the buyer. Buyers may have thought the realtor was working for them, but that was not the case. About 1990, the role of "Buyers Agent" was introduced whose sole purpose was to exclusively represent the buyer. It took awhile to take hold as there was much resistence in the industry, but it is now a successful concept. On Cape Cod, most realtors have taken "Buyers Agent" courses and can now offer prospective buyers the benefit of that education.

Since July 1, 2005, "Listing Brokers and their agents" will be the only ones to represent the sellers as the concept of "Sub-Agency" - whereby "all" realtors, when bringing a buyer work for the seller - will be applied only on a very limited basis in the practice of real estate. These changes can be a source of confusion which makes the following clerification necessary: generally speaking, all realtors may work as "buyers agents" when showing listings to prospective buyers except the listings of their own company. In this case, they will become "dual-agents." There are exceptions to this which will be explained by agents when they exist.

Please note, the descriptions shown here are intended to provide the general concept involved with each agency role and may still be in evolution. Your agent should provide the most recent and accurate description for your benefit.

This description was taken from the Agency Disclosure Form which is always to be presented to a customer at the first meeting when discussing specific homes. It is at this time that a decision is made by the customer if the realtor should work as a Buyers Agent, Sellers Agent, or a Disclosed Dual Agent described as follows:

Seller's Agent - When a seller engages the services of a listing broker, that seller becomes the broker's client. Listing brokers owe their client the seller undivided loyalty, utmost care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accountability. They must put the seller's interest first and negotiate for the best price and terms for their client, the seller. (The seller may also authorize subagents to represent him/her in marketing the property to buyers, however the seller should be aware that wrongful action by the real estate agent or sub-agents may subject the seller to legal liabilty for those wronfgul actions).

Facilitator (Non-Agent) - When a real estate agentworks as a facilitator, that agent assists the seller and buyer in reaching an agreement but does not represent either the seller or buyer in the transaction. The facilitator and the broker with whom the facilitator is affiliated owe the seller and buyer a duty to present each property honestly and accurately by disclosing known material defects about the property and owe a duty to account for funds. Unless otherwise agreed, the facilitator has no duty to keep information received from a seller or buyer confidential. The role of facilitator applies only to the seller and buyer in the particular property transaction involving the seller and buyer. Should the seller and buyer expressly agree, a facilitator relationship can be changed to become an exclusive agency relationship with either the seller or the buyer .

Disclosed Dual Agent - A broker can work for both the buyer and the seller on the same property provided such broker obtains the informed written consent of both parties. The broker is then considered a disclosed dual agent. This broker owes the seller and the buyer a duty to deal with them fairly and honestly. In this type of agency relationship, the broker does not represent either the seller or buyer exclusively and they cannot expect the broker's undivided loyalty. Also, undisclosed dual agency is illegal.

About Buyer Agent Contracts - When homeowners sell their homes, most list it with a real estate agency after interviewing several possibilities. The contract they sign is an exclusive listing agreement which spells out the responsibilities and obligations of each including financial compensation to the realtors. Until the advent of "Buyers Agents," home buyers were never represented, working instead with "Sellers Agents." Because of this lack of proper representation, many home buyers never felt that they were getting the best deal and had no qualms about jumping from one realtor to another whether it benefitted them or not.

With the introduction of the "Buyers Agent," buyers can now be represented and like the homeseller may have am optional contract available which spells out the responsibilities and obligations of each including financial compensation to the realtors. With proper representation, they have someone working for them, providing good advice and information, and hopefully getting the best possible deal.

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