AGENCY LAW IN VIRGINIA
Buying or selling Real Estate
CUSTOMER or CLIENT? The Choice is Yours!
The difference between receiving service and being represented is the difference between being a customer and being a client.
A client is a buyer or seller who has signed a written listing contract or buyer-broker type contract to be ‘represented’ by a broker. If there is no written agreement you will not become a client! This written contract or agreement should answer:
- “How will the brokerage be paid and when?”
- “How long am I obligated under this contract?”
- “Can I also work with other brokerage companies during this agreement? Or, what will happen if I sell or buy on my own?”
- “Am I willing to let this brokerage company represent both me and the buyer (or seller)?”
A client is represented by the broker and his or her sales associates. If you are “represented” as a client, you can expect the real estate professional to:
- Reasonably act to negotiate the best price and terms for you;
- Tell you important information the agent knows or should reasonably have known which would influence your decision to buy or sell.
- Keep information about your bargaining position confidential in the market place;
- Promote your interest with good faith, honesty and fair dealing and use reasonable skills and care in business dealings with you.
What is a Customer?
A customer receives valuable services from the real estate brokerage (assistance, information, etc.) but is NOT “represented” by it. Every person begins as a customer. If you do not sign a written listing contact or buyer-broker contact, you will NOT become a client.
As a customer you should not expect the Real Estate professional to:
- Conduct detailed inspections of the property for you or re-verify information given by the buyer or seller; or,
- Keep you bargaining information confidential.
What is dual agency?
When a brokerage company represent both buyer and seller with their consent. There are two alternatives to deal with this relationship;
- Keep representing both parties and treat everyone with fairness, honesty all personal or financial information to remain confidential;
- Designate one licensee in the company to represent the buyer and another licensee to represent the seller in the same transaction.
TERMS DEFINED AS THEY APPLY IN VIRGINIA
AGENCY REPRESENTATION – defines by law what duties and obligations are owed by a real estate licensee to a client.
CLIENT – a buyer or seller of real estate who has a written agreement for representation in the transaction.
CUSTOMER – a buyer or seller who is NOT represented, but who receives services from a real estate professional.
DUAL AGENCY – a real estate brokerage which offers specific and limited representation to both a buyer and a seller with their consent.