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Real Estate Brokers & Agency

Real Estate Brokers & Agency

A real estate broker or real estate agent is a person who acts as an intermediary between sellers and buyers of real estate/real property and attempts to find sellers who wish to sell and buyers who wish to buy. In the United States, the relationship was originally established by reference to the English common law of agency, with the broker having a fiduciary relationship with his clients. An estate agent being used as a term in the United Kingdom means a person or organization whose business is to market real estate on behalf of clients, but there are significant differences between the actions and liabilities of brokers and estate agents in each country. Beyond the United States, other countries take markedly different approaches to the marketing and selling of real property.

When acting as a buyer's agent with a signed agreement (or, in many cases, verbal agreement, although a broker may not be legally entitled to his commission unless the agreement is in writing), they assist buyers by helping them purchase property for the lowest possible price under the best terms. The real estate broker is obligated to provide fiduciary duties to whomever that broker services as a client. If the broker is helping both the buyer and the seller, this is referred to as a "dual agency." Traditionally, the broker represents the seller, and his fiduciary duty is to the seller. If the broker suggests to the buyer that he will help the buyer negotiate the best price, the broker is practicing "undisclosed dual agency," which is unethical and illegal in all states.[2] Under a dual agency transaction, it is vital that the broker disclose to both parties whom he represents as a client and whom he represents as a customer.

A real estate broker owes his client fiduciary duties, which include care, confidentiality, loyalty, obedience, accounting, and disclosure. To protect his license to practice, a real estate broker owes his customer fair and honest dealing and must request that both parties (seller and buyer) sign a dual agency agreement. In most jurisdictions in the United States, a person must have a license before they may receive remuneration for services rendered as a real estate broker. Unlicensed activity is illegal, but buyers and sellers acting as principals in the sale or purchase of real estate are usually not required to be licensed. In some states, lawyers are authorized to handle real estate sales for compensation without being licensed as brokers or agents.

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