As a seller or buyer, are you a customer or client?

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Did you know that clients receive more services than customers? It's all spelled out in the newly revised South Carolina Disclosure of Real Estate Brokerage Relationships, which must be provided when you first have substantive contact with a real estate agent.

South Carolina license law requires real estate agents to provide the following duties when dealing with buyers or sellers as customers:

  • Present all offers in a timely manner
  • Account for money or property received
  • Explain what service will be provided
  • Be fair, honest and provide accurate information
  • Provide limited confidentiality
  • Disclose "adverse material facts" known by the agent

If you are a client of the real estate company, you can expect the following additional services:

  • Obedience
  • Loyalty
  • Disclosure
  • Confidentiality
  • Accounting
  • Reasonable care and skill
  • Advice, guidance and assistance in negotiations

South Carolina license law defines "customers" as buyers or sellers who choose NOT to enter into an agency relationship. Unless you enter into a written representation agreement with the real estate brokerage, you are considered a customer and should not expect that firm and-or its licensees to promote your best interests.

Sellers become clients when they sign a listing agreement with a company. This written agreement clearly states the terms and obligations of both seller and company.

Buyers become clients by signing a buyer agency agreement with the company. This agreement must also be in writing, with terms and obligation clearly defined.

When you choose to work with a real estate agent, as a seller or a buyer, your business relationship is legally with the real estate company and not with the agent associate.

Revised S.C. license law also introduced "transaction brokerage," wherein customer service may be provided to buyers, sellers or both. Customer service does not require a written agreement; you are not committed to the brokerage firm unless a transaction broker agreement obligates you otherwise.

An agent is required to provide a copy of South Carolina Disclosure of Real Estate Brokerage Relationships to all buyer and seller consumers. They will ask you to sign it as acknowledgement of receipt. It is not a contract and it does not obligate you.

For more information regarding real estate brokerage relationships, download this document from the S.C. Real Estate Commission website or email me for a copy.

Larry Stoller is a broker and Realtor with Real Estate Five of the Lowcountry. Larry@RealEstateFive.com or www.RealEstateFive.com

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