The Act requires that Realtors (as representatives of their brokerages) explain the types of service alternatives available to consumers and that the relationship between the brokerage and the consumer be documented. The most common relationships are “client” and “customer”.
The “client” relationship creates the highest form of obligation for a REALTOR® to a consumer and is a fiduciary (legal) relationship. When a REALTOR® (as representative of their brokerage) represents a client, he/she must do what is in the client’s best interest. Clients are entitled to receive advice from their REALTOR®. In addition, all pertinent information that may affect the client’s decisions must be fully disclosed to the client by their REALTOR®. Furthermore, a client’s confidential information will not be disclosed to others.
A consumer not wishing to be under contract as a client with the REALTOR® and their brokerage may prefer to be treated as a “customer”. Realtors can show properties, provide market research and prepare offers for customers. However, Realtors cannot give a customer advice.
Consumers choosing to be customers should know that personal information, their motivation, their affordability or the price they are prepared to offer or accept is not confidential in a customer relationship.
Buyers and Sellers are sometimes under contract with the same brokerage when properties are being shown or an offer is being contemplated. This situation is referred to as multiple representation. Under the Act, the Realtors and their brokerage must make sure all buyers, sellers, and their Realtors confirm in writing that they acknowledge, understand and consent to the situation before their offer is made.
In a multiple representation situation, the Brokerage shall not disclose:
- the price the Buyer should offer or the price the seller should accept
- the terms of any other offer
- the motivation of or personal information about the client
- what the Buyer is willing to pay
- what the Seller is willing to accept