Written by Tammie White, Principal Broker/Owner of Franklin Homes Realty LLC
When the average consumer sees the term ‘customer’ and ‘client’, they immediately think of them as synonymous. However, within the real estate industry and possibly within the laws of each state, there are major differences in the services we provide to those who are ‘Customers’ and those who are 'Clients'.
One of the most important questions you must ask yourself when working with a real estate professional is...Are you a client or a customer?
A real estate agent legally owes certain duties to a client that are different from the duties they owe to a customer. Most of which relate to contract negotiations and privately known information.
Real Estate Clients
In a client-relationship the real estate agent represents the client. An agency relationship has been established. This person will represent you in negotiations with other parties. The real estate professional when acting as an agent, must loyally represent the best interest of the client. They do this by placing the interests of their client ahead of the interests of any other party participating in the real estate transaction. They also provide ALL known relevant information to their client.
This agency relationship, requires that the real estate agent negotiate the best price and terms for their client. Additionally, a client relationship must be formalized by a signed agency agreement whether buying or selling real estate.
Once you become a client, then other agents are prohibited from advising you. All inquiries should be made directly to your real estate agent. It is an ethics violation for any agent to assist a buyer or seller who already has an established agency relationship with another agent.
Real Estate Customers
In a customer-relationship, customers represent themselves. A customer is a person who is provided services by a real estate professional, but since they haven't entered a client relationship, they aren't owed the same duties. In this case, the real estate licensee is not acting as an agent and is not obligated to place your interest ahead of other parties within the transaction nor are they required to provide confidential information that is not publicly known to their customer. The only exception would be adverse conditions of a property.
The actual services you receive from a real estate professional as a customer depends on the arrangement that has been established between you and the licensee. In essence, the agent is working as a Transaction Broker which may or may not be formalized. The licensee is obligated to provide Transaction Broker services to customers by default. These services include: providing services honestly and in good faith; exercising reasonable care and skill; and to answer your questions completely and accurately.
It's important for customers to realize compensation is not based upon representation. In other words, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, a real estate agent is entitled to compensation if he/she shows you a property, regardless if you have a written agreement or not. He is entitled to the compensation because he has procuring cause. To avoid procuring cause disputes and ensure adequate representation, we suggest buyers always enter into an exclusive representation agreement.
Real Estate Consumers
‘Consumers’ may mean either a buyer or seller, customer or client. However at Franklin Homes Realty LLC, ’Consumer’ takes on a completely different meaning.
We have developed a successful internet presence that provides us with a large number of consumers who visit our website. As such, we are contacted on a daily basis via email, phone and text by consumers seeking additional information regarding properties.
In some cases, these consumers may already be working with a local real estate agent and have chosen to use our website because of the many features it offers. We respect these existing relationships. Unfortunately, there's no way for us to determine if a prior agency relationship already exists. That's why consumers who make an inquiry on our site will be asked if they are currently working with an agent.
If you are currently working with a real estate agent, we will advise you to contact your agent for further clarification on properties or the area. It is considered an ethics violation for an agent to provide services to the client of another agent. Due to this and the limited amount of time we have in a given day, buyers and sellers who have made a commitment to work with the agents at Franklin Homes Realty LLC as 'clients' must be our first priority; followed by customers and then consumers.
The best way for you to move to the head of the pack, as it were, and receive priority is to establish a 'client' relationship with us. We are always happy to help consumers who contact us, however, it is our duty to provide services first to those buyers and sellers who have already committed to Franklin Homes Realty LLC as 'clients' through a signed exclusive agency agreement.
Are you a client or customer in a Franklin TN real estate?
If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Franklin TN and require exclusive representation,
call Franklin Homes Realty LLC at (615) 495-0752.
About Tammie White, Franklin TN REALTOR®
Tammie White is a REALTOR® and Principal Broker/Owner of Franklin Homes Realty LLC in Franklin TN. Tammie works with relocation buyers looking to purchase a home in Franklin and the surrounding Williamson County area. She understands the way buyers search for homes making her an invaluable asset to Franklin home sellers. Tammie's website, www.FranklinHomesRealty.com, has become the premiere search tool for buyers relocating to Franklin TN. She has been writing a real estate blog since 2009 and quoted in various publications including the LA Times, Skype.com, The Tennessean and Williamson Source.