WORKING WITH A REALTOR – THE REAL NUTS & BOLTS
A professional Realtor’s duty is to look after their client’s best interest. Realtors are governed by the Real Estate & Business Brokers Act. As part of our Code of Ethics, we are legally required to review representation options that are available to buyers and sellers so they can make a knowledgeable decision about which representation best fulfills their needs. By asking a Realtor to act on your behalf during the purchase of a home, you are becoming their client. As such we owe you full fiduciary duties such as: loyalty, obedience, confidentiality, accountability, duty of care and full disclosure of all pertinent facts.
In Ontario, there are two different ways you can work with a Realtor:
1. As a client – the buyer benefits from having a Realtor represent them and take care of their best interest.
2. As a customer – the buyer is owed honesty. However, the Realtor works for the seller – therefore we can’t guide or comment on the pricing of the house.
The representation that you choose must, by law, be documented in writing.
Who pays the Realtor?
In most cases, the seller of a property pays the service fee to both the listing Realtor and the buying Realtor. There are some instances where the seller does not wish to do this, in which case it would be the buyer’s responsibility. In this instance we would know well in advance – there will never be any surprises as it would be clearly discussed.
As most of the time the seller is paying the commission, it makes sense to have a Realtor representing you as a buyer so that you can receive all my expertise, legal knowledge and negotiation skills – all at no cost to you.
Should I work directly with the listing Realtor instead of having my own Realtor?
Some people believe it will be a cost savings to be unrepresented and work directly with the listing Realtor. This is not a wise move because the listing Realtor actually represents the seller, which means their loyalty is to the seller.
As the buyer you would not be protected. In this situation while the listing Realtor owes you “honesty” as per our fiduciary duties, it will be completely up to you to research all the nuances about the property and suggest all the legal terms you would like entered into the agreement. In reality, given that in most cases you are not paying to have representation by a buyer’s Realtor, the costs savings from being properly represented in the purchase of your most expensive asset is much higher than the commission you think you might save by going directly to the listing Realtor.