Team Cleary…Are you a Customer or a Client?

…and why does it matter? Whether you are potentially thinking of buying or selling real estate, it’s important to know who is representing who and whether an agent is representing you as their client or simply assisting you as a customer, while acting as an agent of the other party.

Most people usually start with an inquiry or an initial appointment to see a property or discuss selling. Knowing the difference between a customer and a client relationship and the real estate agent’s responsibilities owed to you in each scenario is very important.

Agency relationships are defined differently in other states, and although you may be very familiar with how things work in your home state it may not be quite the same in North Carolina. All real estate agents in our state are required by law to explain how real estate agency works before asking for or obtaining personal confidential information from you. Prior to showing property to a prospective buyer, we are required to establish which role we are assuming for you. For buyers, it can be as simple as a verbal commitment, but before making any offers on your behalf, an agency agreement needs to be in writing. For sellers, a written agency agreement must in place before your agent can begin marketing your home or property.

The NC Real Estate Commission publishes a “Working with Real Estate Agents Disclosure” form outlining the types of working relationships real estate agents may have with clients and customers in real estate transactions. Real estate agents are required to review it with prospective clients and customers at “first substantial contact.” The form is not a contract, and signing the disclosure only means it was received by and explained to you.

Real estate agents must be honest and fair with all parties, however, without an agency agreement the agent is not representing you, but rather assisting you as a customer. When working for you under a written agency agreement, your real estate agent has a fiduciary duty to you as their client. Client-level duties and services include promoting your best interests; being loyal to you; following your lawful instructions; providing you with all material facts that could influence your decisions; use reasonable skill, care, and diligence; and accounting for all monies they handle for you. Once under a listing or buyer agency agreement, your broker, their firm, and its agents may not give any confidential information about you to others during the agency relationship without your permission. Confidentiality is a key duty that may be very important to you.

For more information on an agent’s duties and services, you may refer to the NC Real Estate Commission’s “Questions and Answers on: Working With Real Estate Agents” brochure at (Publications, Q&A Brochures) or ask us or your agent for a copy of it.

Wes & Cathy Cleary of Team Cleary Real Estate, Inc. are experienced Realtors® who work full-time as a full-service Real Estate team.  They have invested, rented, bought, and sold real estate in the Carolinas since 1997. Lake Lure homeowners since 2002.; Wes 828-785-2115; 828-808-6790 Cathy;

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