Now that you have been introduced to different types of relationships buyers and sellers can engage in with a real estate agent, it is helpful to understand the associated responsibilities.
For your real estate agent, these responsibilities depend on the relationship agreed upon. The most extensive and involved relationship, in terms of responsibilities, is an agency/client relationship. Here’s what you should expect:
The agent must act solely in your best interests, must always put your interests above their own and above the interests of other parties. This means, among other things, avoiding conflicts of interest and protecting your negotiating position at all times.
The agent has a duty to keep your confidences. Confidential information includes any information concerning you, the property or the transaction that has not required by law to be disclosed, but which, if disclosed, could be used by another party to your disadvantage. It is important to note that the duty of confidentiality continues even after the agency relationship ends.
The agent must inform you of all known facts that might affect your relationship or influence your decision in a real estate transaction. This includes any conflicts of interest the agent might have in the course of providing services to you.
The agent should not decide whether the information is important to you and is obligated to disclose all relevant information. An exception to full disclosure to you is confidential information your agent may have gathered from a past client in a previous agency relationship, unless the previous client agrees in writing.
As long as instructions are reasonable and ordinary under the circumstances, the agent must obey all of your lawful instructions. If you ask the agent to do something unlawful, the agent would be obliged to refuse and consider terminating the relationship and existing service agreement.
Reasonable care and skill
The agent must exercise reasonable care and skill in performing all assigned duties. The agent is expected to meet the standard of care that a reasonable and competent industry member would exercise in a similar situation.
The agent must account for all money and property placed in his or her hands while acting on your behalf. As licensed professionals, real estate industry members are further bound by statutory obligations that are set out in the real estate trading act and commission by-law.
These obligations reinforce the common law duties described above. You are entitled to — and should expect — competent service from your agent, knowing that the brokerage and its representatives are bound by the law to be honest in every real estate transaction.
It is important for buyers and sellers to be aware of these obligations so they can make informed decisions. The surest path to success is to ask questions and be sure you are satisfied with the answers before you enter into a relationship with a specific brokerage.
The Nova Scotia Association of REALTORS® represents more than 1,700 brokers, salespeople and affiliate members throughout the province. REALTOR® is a trademark, which identifies real estate professionals who are members of The Canadian Real Estate Association and, as such, subscribe to a high standard of professional service and a strict code of ethics.
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