Simply stated, as a selling client, you deserve more. My industry gets a bad wrap quite a bit, and a lot of it is self-inflicted in my opinion. Our job is to provide great service and great results for our clients. But what do great service and great results look like? Let’s start with what the National Association of Realtors tells us is our fiduciary obligation to our clients.
Once we have been hired by someone to be their agent, NAR states that we owe the following fiduciary duties:
- Loyalty. This duty obligates a real estate broker to act at all times solely in the best interests of his principal to the exclusion of
all other interests, including the broker’s own self-interest.
- Confidentiality. An agent is obligated to safeguard his principal’s confidence and secrets. A real estate broker, therefore, must keep confidential any information that might weaken his principal’s bargaining position if it were revealed.
- Disclosure. An agent is obligated to disclose to his principal all relevant and material information that the agent knows and that pertains to the scope of the agency. For example, an agent must disclose all offer received on a property for sale whether they are in writing or just a verbal offer.
- Obedience. An agent is obligated to obey promptly and efficiently all lawful instructions of his principal.
- Reasonable care and diligence. The standard of care expected of a real estate broker representing a seller or buyer is that of a competent real estate professional. By reason of his license, a real estate broker is deemed to have skill and expertise in real estate matters superior to that of the average person.
- Accounting. An agent is obligated to account for all money or property belonging to his principal that is entrusted to him.
The aforementioned are the fiduciary duties owed to a client. Consider them a starting point. As a client, however, don’t you deserve more than the minimum standard of conduct? Of course you do. You deserve much more.
You deserve a full-time Realtor. I myself was once a part-time Realtor as I transitioned into the real estate business from the food service industry. Because I have been both part-time and now full-time, I understand the time it takes to stay fully informed of the market and to provide great service. You can’t serve two masters. They say that for a reason. You deserve a full time Realtor who is dedicated solely to serving his or her clients.
You deserve professional photographs. Holy cow! Is this one basic or what? There are even websites dedicated to making fun of bad MLS photos like www.badmlsphotos.com. We know that your first showings are online, not in person. Your first impression is everything and may determine whether or not a potential buyer chooses to schedule a showing to actually see your home in person. The cost of professional photographs is not worth the risk of loosing a potential buyer. In my opinion, it is one of the smartest investments a Realtor can make on behalf of his client.
You deserve professional staging. Although there are a select few agents who have a great eye for staging, you deserve to have professional staging services when preparing your home for sale. There is a tremendous amount of perspective provided by a third party whose sole purpose is to make the seller’s home as marketable as possible. And it takes all of the guess work out of the home staging process. Every seller’s time is valuable and, therefore, each seller should be provided with a detailed list of specific staging suggestions to help maximize their home’s value and make the best use of the seller’s time.
You deserve not to work with someone just because they are a friend, a relative, a fellow church member, etc. Please don’t take this one the wrong way. I celebrate loyalty as it pertains to our clients. However, I don’t expect them to be loyal to me, but rather to be loyal to our level of service and our results. Oftentimes sellers allow a friend or family member to guilt them into hiring them even when they would prefer not to. Here is the way I see it: Go ahead and interview your friend and also interview other Realtors as well. Then choose the one with the best proven results (i.e. lowest days on market, highest list price/sales price percentage, fewest number of price adjustments, etc). If your friend gets mad because they don’t get the job based on a factual comparison of the results, then that friend is more concerned about themselves than they are about what you deserve as a seller. What was that first duty again? Loyalty, to the exclusion of all other interests, including the Realtor’s.