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House Shaped Key

Whether you’re buying, selling or renting, working with a quality real estate agent is extremely important to ensure a smooth process.

When buying a home, consumers should:

  • Know the difference between a real estate broker and a real estate salesperson:
    • A real estate broker negotiates agreements to sell, exchange, purchase, rent or lease interests in real property for a fee, commission or other valuable consideration for another person. They are responsible for accepting and escrowing all funds, such as a deposit placed on the purchase of a home, and for finalizing transactions. A real estate broker must supervise any transactions conducted by a salesperson.
    • A real estate salesperson engages in the same activities as a broker, except for completing the negotiation of any agreement or transaction. A salesperson also has no authority or control over escrow funds. A salesperson must be affiliated with a broker, either as an employee or as an independent contractor, and work under the supervision of the broker. They cannot operate their own real estate business.
  • Know who your real estate agent represents. Depending on your needs, your agent may serve as:
    • Buyer’s Agent: In this case, the broker represents you exclusively and is accountable to you. They must obey your instructions and keep anything you tell them regarding the purchase of real property confidential. In negotiating for the best prices and terms, they must put your interests first.
    • Disclosed Dual Agent: A broker can work for both the buyer and the seller on the same property provided the broker gets the consent of both parties and provides each with a written notice of the relationship. This broker does not represent either party exclusively, and owes both the seller and buyer a duty to deal with them fairly and honestly. Undisclosed dual agency by a broker is illegal.
    • Facilitator: When a real estate agent works as a facilitator that agent assists the seller and buyer in reaching an agreement but does not represent either in the transaction. The facilitator and the broker with whom the facilitator is affiliated should present each property honestly and accurately by disclosing known material defects about the property and owe a duty to account for funds. Unless otherwise agreed, the facilitator has no duty to keep information received from either party confidential. The seller and buyer must agree in order for a facilitator relationship to become an exclusive agency relationship with either party.
  • Do not reveal too much personal information. Disclosing financial information or information regarding your urgency to make a deal may undermine your bargaining position if the broker conveys it to the seller.
  • Remember, many items are negotiable, including the amount of the deposit, the closing date, and the number of loan applications you will file and the main terms of such loan. Discuss with your attorney about deposit dispute clauses including in the purchase and sale agreement should the sale fall through. It’s important that home buyers talk with their agents about getting the best terms possible.
  • Get all promises or representations about the property or what will be included in the sale in writing in the purchase and sale agreement. Both parties need to be clear about who will hold any deposit funds and what will happen in the event of a dispute between the parties.
  • Have a professional home inspection performed. Consumers are advised to find their own inspector and not use someone suggested by the seller or the seller’s broker.
  • Consult with a lawyer. Prior to signing any documents concerning the purchase of real estate it is best that consumers consult a lawyer.

For more information on real estate brokers and salespersons, contact the Board. If you have a serious complaint against a real estate broker or salesperson, contact the Division of Professional Licensure’s Office of Investigations.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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