There’s more to being a real estate agent than staging homes and holding open houses. In addition to all the day-to-day things that real estate agents must do, they have legal obligations and duties towards their clients.
What Is an Agent?
Before we can understand what those obligations are, we must understand what an “agent” is.
An agent is a person who acts or works on behalf of another person (the principal) under a contractual relationship. Generally, the agent takes actions on behalf of his/her principal (within the scope of his agency) in transactions with third parties.
The principal is the person who appoints (hires) the agent to act on his behalf. In real estate transactions, the principal has traditionally been the seller of the property, who hires a real estate agent to sell or lease his property. Recently, more buyers have begun to hire their own agents to represent them in the sale/purchase transaction.
Traditionally, the principal/agent relationship was one of confidence and trust. Like other agents, the real estate agent was considered to be a fiduciary. That meant that a real estate agent was required to act with care and the utmost good faith towards his/her principal.
Under traditional agency law, fiduciaries had affirmative duties towards their principals, including (not limited to):
The Duty of Confidentiality: An agent was required to safeguard his principal’s confidences and privacy even after the transaction closed.
Duty of Disclosure: Agents were required to disclose all material information to the principal.
Duty of Obedience: The agent was obligated to obey the agent’s orders (unless of course it is illegal).
Reasonable Care and Diligence: Agents were required to act with reasonable care and diligence. In other words, the agent had to be competent and do the job right.
In Georgia, the Brokerage Relationships in Real Estate Transactions Act (“BRRETA”) governs the relationships between real estate brokerages and consumers. It does not require that brokers or real estate agents represent a client to a fiduciary standard – a standard of absolute loyalty, confidentiality, accountability and disclosure.
Under BRRETA, real estate brokerages do not owe clients a fiduciary duty. Rather, the law sets out a limited list of duties owed to a client.
There is a lot more to know about brokers, real estate agents and their duties. Which is why, if you are involved in a real estate transaction, you should consult with experienced real estate counsel.
Experienced and Zealous Advocates
The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein practice real estate law. We can help guide you to solutions. Our offices are in Cumming, Georgia, and we serve Atlanta and a number of the surrounding counties including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. You can contact us here or call us at 770-888-7707 to schedule your free phone consultation.