If a consumer does not want to have an agency relationship with an industry member or “real estate broker,” but still wishes to work with an industry member with respect to a particular real estate transaction, that consumer may choose customer status.
If a consumer chooses customer status, the brokerage does not represent the consumer. The brokerage is not the consumer’s agent and does not owe the consumer fiduciary duties. The brokerage will not provide the customer any services that require the exercise of discretion or judgment, the giving of confidential advice or advocating on the consumer’s behalf.
However, a brokerage and its associates continue to have the following obligations to a customer:
- act honestly in all their dealings with the customer;
- exercise reasonable care and skill;
- not negligently or knowingly provide the customer false or misleading information;
- hold all monies received from the customer in trust in accordance with the provisions of the Real Estate Act; and,
- comply with the provisions of the Real Estate Act, Regulations, Rules and Bylaws.
If a consumer chooses to be a customer, an industry member may wish to have the consumer acknowledge that choice by signing a Customer Status Acknowledgement Form.
At the discretion of the brokerage, it may assist customers in completing a transaction by:
- providing real estate statistics and information on comparable properties;
- providing standard agreements of purchase and sale, lease or other relevant documents and prepare all necessary documents in accordance with the instructions of the;
- providing the names of appraisers, mortgage brokers and other services providers (but may not recommend one);
- presenting, in a timely manner, all offers and counter-offers between the buyer and the seller;
- conveying all information that either party wishes to have communicated to the other; and,
- keeping the customer informed of the progress of the transaction.
There are several reasons why a consumer might choose, or the brokerage might recommend, customer status. This may occur when:
- The consumer wishes to represent himself or herself in a real estate transaction. For example, a buyer who is represented by a real estate broker becomes interested in a property for sale; however, the seller does not wish to engage the services of a real estate broker. The seller chooses to represent him or herself. In order to complete the transaction, the seller may wish, instead, to be treated as a customer by the buyer’s agent.
- A buyer is interested in a property where the seller has a long-standing relationship with the buyer’s agent. In this case, the buyer may wish to opt for customer status for the duration of that transaction. This often occurs when purchasing new homes as the real estate broker selling at a show home has a very strong and often exclusive relationship with a particular home builder.
Industry members must make it known to consumers they always have the option of choosing another brokerage to represent them rather than agreeing to customer status.