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

When selling 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:
    • Sellers Agent: If you engage the services of a listing broker to sell your property, you become the broker’s client. The broker represents you, the seller, and owes you undivided loyalty, confidentiality and accountability. In negotiating for the best price and terms, he 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.
  • Make sure the real estate agent is licensed, active and in good standing with the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons. Check that both the broker’s and salesperson’s licenses have not been subject to disciplinary action, such as a suspension or revocation. Keep in mind: While exclusive listings are the typical arrangement, sellers may wish to enter into a non-exclusive listing agreement with an agent. In such situations, you may also employ other agents and your own efforts in selling property.
  • Review and negotiate, if necessary, your standard listing agreement. These agreements are commonly used, but are not developed by the Real Estate Board or by state government. You may negotiate how long you will give a broker to sell your property, the type of advertising that will be done, and the commission you will pay to the broker.
  • Check if a broker has errors and omissions insurance for his or her brokering practice. State licensing law requires real estate brokers to have a five thousand dollar surety bond, but many brokers carry additional errors and omissions insurance. This may be helpful should there be a problem which leads to litigation against a broker.
  • Check to be sure your broker will accept offers made from other brokers including those who represent the buyer exclusively and brokers who may not be affiliated with a professional association. Brokers are required to present all offers that are made to them to the seller, and all offers received on your behalf.

 

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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