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Client or Customer?
Which would you rather be... a client or a customer?

When dealing with a REALTOR in a real estate transaction, you are usually a client a customer. A client is someone who has formed a brokerage relationship with a REALTOR, usually by signing a contract. The REALTOR is their agent. Parties with no brokerage relationship are customers.

>Agency is Representation.
Agents work FOR clients and work WITH customers.

When acting as a standard agent,all Virginia licensees have certain duties and obligations by law (see especially Title 54.1, Chapter 21, Article 3). Additional duties can be created by a brokerage agreement with a client, usually in writing. REALTORS are also governed by a Code of Ethics.

A REALTOR who is your agent must fully represent your best interests. An agent owes first allegiance to his client. There are some limits when an agent has two clients in the same transaction (see overlapping brokerage relationships).

Brokerage relationships with an individual Agent binds all other agents of the same real estate company.

Standard Agent Duties to Clients:

  • Perform the terms of the brokerage agreement.
  • Promote the client's best interest by seeking a transaction acceptable to the client.
  • Provide financial accounting.
  • Disclose known material facts about the property or the transaction.
  • Exercise ordinary care.
  • Maintain client confidentiality, unless disclosure is required by law.

Standard Agent Duties to Customers:

  • Treat all parties honestly and not knowingly give false information.
  • Inform all customers and potential customers of the nature of any brokerage relationships. (Must disclose up front that they are representing someone else.)
  • Disclose material adverse facts pertaining to the physical condition of the property of which the REALTOR is actually aware. Comply with the law, including the Fair Housing Act.

There are limits on what an agent must tell a customer. Customers may wish to look to other sources for information important to their decisions.

All real estate licensees are required by law to disclose who he/she is working for verbally at first contact and in writing when having "substantial conversation about a specific property". This keeps the playing field level and ensures no unfair advantage is given to either side of the transaction.

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Seller Representation - Information for both sellers and buyers
Buyer Representation - A Concept long overdue! "Need to Know" information for buyers and sellers.
Overlapping Agency Relationships - Dual Agency and Designated Representation
Back to the Agency Page - If you're buying real estate and are NOT represented by an agent, think again!!