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Real Talk Real Estate: What it means to work with an agent

Can I fire my agent? This is a popular question the public finds perplexing. Do you have an out once you have signed a contract with a broker to buy or sell a home?

Before I answer that question, let me do a quick explanation of what it means to be a realtor. If you are working with a true realtor who is a member of the National Association of Realtors or NAR for short, your agent is held to very strict ethical standards.

NAR’s website states that the code of ethics was one of the first codifications of ethical duties adopted by any business group. Adopted in 1913, The Code ensures that consumers are served by requiring realtors to cooperate with each other in furthering clients’ best interests.

It is important to know that not all real estate agents are realtors. This is confusing, so make sure you are using a designated realtor when you choose who you will work with because, believe it or not, our job is to look out for your best interests.

Almost all realtors or real estate agents are independent contractors. An independent contractor by definition in Wikipedia is a person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services under a written contract or a verbal agreement.

Unlike employees, independent contractors do not work regularly for an employer but work as required, when they may be subject to the law of the agency.

You should know that you can legally be in a contract with a realtor without actually signing anything. The nature of the relationship could be determined by the proof of services rendered.

Lastly, (and the final piece to this puzzle in regards to this contractor relationship you create with a real estate agent) we get paid at the end of the transaction, or the closing of the sale. We do not get paid in any other form. We have no paid benefits, vacations, sick pay, or retirement plans. We get paid based on the commission offered or agreed to and not for the hours or the time we spend working with you.

We also have to pay our office brokers or owners to hold our licenses and be affiliated with the company we work at. This is often known as a broker’s split. We are responsible to pay for all our own expenses out of pocket, so if you have worked with an agent and did not buy or sell a home, they never got paid for the time and services they provided you.

So, now that you have a little bit of information regarding what it takes to be a realtor, can you fire yours?

The answer is yes you can, but you may still be financially obligated to pay for the services you received before you terminated the relationship or contract. If you have signed an agreement, I highly recommend you read through the entire document. Our Georgia Association of Realtors has some of the best legal forms in the nation and they are easy to read and understand. You may be responsible for any expenses that your realtor incurred providing their services to you.

Or, if you buy a home that your realtor showed you first, you may owe them the full commission they would have received when the sale is closed.

My best advice is to make sure you choose someone that you know you can trust first, and secondly has the availability to fit your schedule. There are no set working guidelines on what a realtor is required to do, with the exceptions of doing the public no harm and the ethical standards which are more about integrity than practical day-to-day task management. We are generally a conduit of information. We provide support in any and all ways necessary to your specific situation.

Being available and honest are the most important character traits you should look for. If you see any red flags with the professional you are working with, make sure you terminate your relationship in writing and before you enter into a contract to purchase or sell a home.

You always have a choice on who you work with. Please do not just use someone you are not comfortable with, just because you think you have no options.

We have thousands of realtors in the CSRA. A lot of great ones are always available! For more information on the ethics standards, please visit the NAR website: of-ethics/2021-code-of-ethics-standards-of-practice

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