Who Represents You in a Real Estate Transaction?

When you hire a real estate agent, it’s important to understand whose side she’s on as you select a home to buy (or list your current home for sale) and head towards closing, where the actual transfer of ownership happens. There are a lot of ways agents may represent clients. Yours might represent:

Only you

Only the other parties in the transaction

Everyone in the deal

By knowing where your agent’s loyalties lie, you’ll know what you can tell her and what you can’t. (If, for example, you’re dealing with an agent who doesn’t represent you but is representing the sellers of a home you want to buy, you won’t want to tell her how high you’re willing to go on the price.) In some states, your agent has to explain the type of representation (also called agency) she’s offering you and ask you to sign a contract identifying who the agent and her broker represent. If an agent doesn’t bring up the subject or ask you to sign a contract, ask about it so you know whom she’s representing.

No matter what form of representation you agree to, watch out for your own interests and understand the six ways brokers and agents represent clients below.

But first, prepare yourself for the closing process:

1. Buyer’s Agency

Want the agent to represent you and only you when you buy a home so that all the information you share with her is confidential? Opt for an exclusive buyer’s agent.

Who pays the buyer’s agent? Surprisingly, even if you hire a buyer’s agent, you can still ask the sellers to pay his fee. You can pay your buyer’s agent yourself, or ask the seller (or the seller’s agent) to pay your agent a share of their sales commission.

2. Seller’s or Listing Agency

An exclusive seller’s agent represents only the sellers, not the buyers. If your exclusive seller’s agent finds a buyer for your home, he may have another agent — maybe even a co-worker from the same brokerage — represent the buyer in your transaction. In some cases the buyer may have no agent at all. Your exclusive seller’s agent is loyal only to you, so it’s OK to discuss strategy with him.

Who pays the seller’s agent? The seller pays a commission to the seller’s agent from the proceeds of the sale. The seller’s agent may, and often does, share the commission with the homebuyer’s agent.

3. Subagency or Cooperating Agency

Let’s say you find a home online. You call the real estate brokerage that’s offering the home and an agent who answers the phone offers to show you the home right now. You think, “Great, she’s showing me the home, she must work for me.” But unless you’ve hired her as your buyer’s agent, she’s working for the sellers.

The same thing can happen if you go to see a home with an agent whose brokerage doesn’t hold the listing. That agent is assisting you, but she’s not your agent; she’s cooperating with the sellers to get you to buy their home.

In some states, that agent may also be a subagent (think subcontractor) of the seller’s agent. Some states allow subagents, some don’t.

Bottom line: Always ask any agent showing you a home whom she represents. Never tell a subagent anything you don’t want the sellers to know.

Who pays the subagent? The seller’s agent shares her commission with the subagent.

4. Dual Agency

In many states, agents can represent both the buyer and seller. These dual agents seek to bring both sides together. They can’t do something that’s only good for you and not for the other side.

A dual agent situation often arises when one agent represents the buyers and the sellers of the same home. The agent must disclose the relationship and, in many states, you must agree in writing to such dual representation because of the potential for conflicts of interest. While dual agents have an obligation not to share any confidential information of a client without their permission, be sure to inform the agent that the information is confidential and know that any non-confidential information may be shared with the people on the other side of the transaction.

Who pays the dual agent? Usually the seller pays the commission.

5. Designated or Appointed Agency

What happens when the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent both work for the same broker?

To make sure both sides of the home sale are treated fairly in this situation, some brokers designate an agent in their company to represent only the buyers and another to represent only the sellers. A designated agent or appointed agent will be loyal to you and only you. The strategy helps avoid a dual agency situation.

Who pays the designated agents? The sellers pay the commission and the designated agents share it.

6. Nonagency or Transaction Brokerage

In some states, you can work with an agent who acts as a facilitator. By doing so, you set up a nonagency, transactional, or facilitator relationship with the “agent” even though that person is technically not your agent under the law. Typically, nonagents owe you fewer obligations and duties than those who are actually agents. For instance, they would still be required to treat you fairly, but wouldn’t necessarily owe you confidentiality.

Nonagent responsibilities vary from state to state. To find out what those services entail in your state, ask the broker and agent.

Who pays the nonagent? You, as the seller, might agree to pay a flat fee or a commission, which would be stipulated in the listing agreement.

A REALTOR® can help you sell faster, get a better price, and guide you through what can be a complex process. So you’ll want to find an agent who suits your needs. Knowing which type of relationship you have with your agent, and his broker, will help you negotiate the best possible deal, whether you’re a buyer or a seller.

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5 Home Projects Only Professionals Should Do

It’s easy for homeowners to get caught up in the world of Pinterest and do-it-yourself blogs. While unique, custom projects can be a great way to personalize or spruce up your home, some projects are better left to professional contractors. Next time a friend or client has a brilliant idea to attempt one of these projects on their own, let them know why some things are best when left in the hands of pros.

1. Tree Removal – Whether it’s cutting down an overgrown tree or digging up a giant stump, this project can be an accident waiting to happen, especially if the tree is close to your house. Working from a height of 10 or 15 feet with large power tools can be dangerous enough, but add the factor of falling branches, and the risk of injury or damage to your car, house, or telephone lines increases even more. Removing a stump can be risky, too, as roots growing close to water or electrical pipes can cause serious damage as they are pulled up or moved.

2. Electrical and Plumbing Work

Not only can messing up electrical work in your home create much more serious issues, you also generally need a permit and inspection to do this kind of work. Bigger plumbing problems and projects like installing a shower or sink should only be attempted by professionals. Incorrect installation or repair can lead to damaged pipes or waterlogged walls, along with other expensive issues.

3. Pool Repair and Installation

Both above and in-ground pools are difficult to repair without special tools and products. While simple projects around the pool are fine to do yourself, repairing cracks in the foundation or remodeling your pool is something that a professional is better equipped for.

The same goes for pool installation. You may think you are saving a lot of money by installing a swimming pool by yourself, but as PoolProducts.com cautions, installing a vinyl or fiberglass pool is a very big job. A task of this magnitude requires some serious homework before you decide to it take on, plus you may have to rent or buy large construction equipment, or even hire help to do the job right. Measurements must be precise, permits and inspections must be passed, and you must consider how the ground and concrete will settle and shift over time.

4. Removing a Wall

It may seem like a good idea to knock down a small wall in your house to open up the kitchen or create a bigger living room, but it isn’t as easy as it may appear. If the wall is load-bearing or supports any part of the house, or if it holds electrical or plumbing, you could cause serious damage to the structure of your home.

Popular Mechanics recommends consulting with a building engineer before attempting to knock down a wall. A building engineer can give you advice on the best way to remove the wall and let you know if any special permits are needed.

5. Flooring

Homeowners might want to call a professional if they plan to rip up carpet or lay new tile. You might not know what’s underneath your carpet and if the subfloor is damaged or rotten, you could wind up spending thousands in extra costs just to repair it. Laying tile is another delicate and very precise project—if the tiles aren’t cut perfectly, laid completely straight, or if one of them cracks, you may have to start all over. If you’re not experienced in flooring, it may be best to leave it to a flooring expert.

Read More at Realty Times