Understanding Who Represents You in a Real Estate Transaction

Key takeaways:

  • Here in New York, real estate agents are required to explain some important details to all buyers and sellers.
  • Curious about what this information means? Keep reading to learn more about non-discrimination, dual agency, and who represents you during a transaction.
  • Have questions about making a move in Central New York? Reach out to the Pei Lin Team for all the answers you could ever need!

Everything You Need to Know About Agent Representation & Client Rights

Picture this: you find a house you like on the web, so you call the agent affiliated with the listing. It may be the listing agent or not. You start telling them about your personal details, finances, motivations, and other important information. That person represents you, right?

Not so much. Unless you specifically hire an agent to be your representative (buyer’s agent), that person represents the seller. And here in New York, you should be informed of this upfront.

New York State requires all licensees (real estate agents) to explain some important items at “first substantive contact,” regardless of whether the contact is via email or in-person. We are required to have you acknowledge in writing that you were informed.

Agents are prohibited from discriminating against anyone

Buyers represented by an agent

The first disclosure that every agent must provide acknowledges fair housing rules, also known as non-discrimination. Agents are not allowed to discriminate based on race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, lawful source of income, or familial status. In 2020, NYS instituted a mandatory form that we have to present to consumers saying as much. Not that we could discriminate before the existence of this form!

There are different types of representation for buyers and sellers

The other form we have to explain to consumers is Disclosure Regarding Agency Relationships. Agency just means who we, the agent, represent. Once upon a time, all agents represented the seller, never the buyer. That’s how long I’ve been in the real estate industry!

Luckily for buyers, they now have a choice to be represented and have their own advocate. That is called Buyer Agency—just like how a seller would enter into an exclusive relationship with an agent and brokerage, so would a buyer.

Notice I also said brokerage. When you hire an agent, you are hiring not just the individual agent, but the entire brokerage or real estate company.

Wait! What if you are interested in a property that’s also listed with Keller Williams (KW)? New York State instructs us on how to handle this. Depending on who the agents are, one of two relationships would come into play.

Dual agency: If our team represents both the seller and buyer, then we would be dual agents. Any personal secrets remain confidential. We would not “take sides”—we will give you information on the market, we will tell you strengths and weaknesses of a contract, and we will make suggestions on how to handle specific needs or situations. 

Designated agency: This is when there is a KW agent on the other side of the transaction, but not on our team. In this case, there is a dividing line, as we will not know anything about their client, nor they ours. KW the company is the dual agent, but they will designate each of us to represent our clients ONLY.

Work with Central New York’s Trusted Real Estate Team!

You can see why it’s important to have these conversations upfront. Many consumers assume the agent they are speaking with automatically represents them, and that is not the case.

Do not be surprised if you are asked to sign forms acknowledging you were told this information—it’s a requirement New York State places on licensed real estate agents and brokers.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Pei Lin Team! We’d love to start working with you and get you one step closer to finding your dream home! And if you’re thinking about selling, we can even tell you just how much your home is worth in today’s hot market.

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