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Remax Advantage Realty
Coral Gables, FL

RE Max Northern Lakes
Three Lakes, WI
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Casas Real Estate
Miami, FL

America Florida Realty Inc
Orlando, FL

Remax Coastal Properties
Holly Ridge, NC
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Re Max Properties Limited
Richboro, PA
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RE Max
Tucson, AZ
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Rico Realty
Bronx, NY
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Marron & Gildea Realtors
Ho Ho Kus, NJ
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RE Max Platinum
Lake Worth, FL
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Re Max All Executives
Tucson, AZ

Remax Real Estate Specialist
Lynn, MA

Dan Tapia - Realtor/Wedding Minister - Eastside
Kirkland, WA

Understanding your Agent's Responsibilities

It is not uncommon for buyers and sellers to become confused regarding exactly what a real estate agent can and cannot do for them simply because they do not understand the agent’s scope of duties and responsibilities. In considering what an agent can and cannot do for you it is imperative to understand how the agent is bound by both federal and state regulations. When considering working with a real estate agent to either buy or sell property, keep the following in mind.

First, real estate agents are prohibited by law from discriminating. The Fair Housing Act prevents discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status. If you are considering the purchase of property, be aware that due to the fact that agents are bound by this regulation, they cannot answer questions regarding the demographics of a particular neighborhood. By law they are prohibited from answering questions regarding the ethnic make-up of an area, whether the neighborhood is inhabited primarily by families, singles or seniors.

The regulations regarding these matters are so serious that real estate agents must be careful regarding how they advertise their listings. They cannot use any words or phrase that might seem to represent or discriminate against any classes which are protected under legal regulations. Phrases agents must generally avoid in advertising their listings include bachelor, singles, professional, mature, integrated, etc. If an agent were to describe a property using any of these terms they could be discriminating against a protected class and opening themselves to possible litigation. Therefore, it is important to not expect your agent to provide this type of information regarding property which you consider purchasing or selling.

Agents also typically cannot make assurances regarding matters related to a neighborhood such as a specific school district or even whether the neighborhood is considered to be safe. While most buyers naturally want to make sure their children will be enrolled in a good school district and they are buying property in a safe neighborhood, it is easy to see how an agent could become liable if they describe a neighborhood as being safe or being located in a ‘good’ school district if there are problems down the road. Therefore, most savvy agents will avoid the matter altogether.

While there are many areas which an agent simply must avoid due to legal regulations, an agent is required to treat you honestly and with respect. If you are a seller and you are working with a seller’s agent the agent has a responsibility to negotiate a sales price as close as possible to the listing price. Buyers working with buyer’s agents can expect the agent to help them find homes and negotiate a good sales price. While neither type of agent can guarantee you they will sell or help you find a home for a specific price, both are required to work with your best interests in mind. Keeping that in mind, always be sure you know whether you are working with a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent or a dual agent. This can make a tremendous difference in the agent’s responsibilities toward you in the transaction.

Taking the time to understand what an agent can and cannot do for you will help to ensure a smooth transaction for everyone involved. Remember not to take it personally if an agent cannot answer certain questions you pose to them-doing so could put them at risk for legal problems. The best course of action is to understand your agent’s responsibilities, both to you and the law, and act accordingly.
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