Like the mortgage broker, lender, title company and real estate attorney, the real estate agent is an important part of the real estate transaction. Real estate agents are often individuals with the most knowledge of the physical characteristics of a property, as they are the ones with the most exposure to the actual property.
The real estate agent may have different roles in a real estate transaction, depending on the party they represent. For example:
- A seller’s agent will represent the seller and will protect the seller’s interests. The seller’s agent will receive information on the property directly from the seller, including when a home was built, square footage, number of rooms, amenities, any defects in the property and the results of any recent inspections of the property;
- A buyer’s agent will represent the buyer, and will protect the buyer’s interests. As well they will provide information on a number of properties, give comparative information and negotiate with the seller’s agent for items such as purchase price, preoccupancy agreements and any upgrades that need to be performed prior to the closing date.
- A dual agent is a real estate agent who represents both the buyer and the seller.
- A real estate broker may at times represent neither property, but instead might act as an intermediary for buyers and sellers. The broker will seek out buyers for a seller, and vice versa. Broker fees may be paid by the seller, the buyer or both.
A real estate agent’s duties are often varied and numerous, between listing and showing a property to prospective buyers, presenting contracts to the parties and negotiating with the opposite party or the parties’ agents. In addition, they may contact the financial parties (lenders and mortgage brokers) to ensure all proper financing documents are present, to arrange inspections, and sometimes to be present at closing.
Real estate agents are usually paid on commission, meaning a percent of the sale price of the property. If a buyer’s agent or broker has directed a buyer to the seller’s agent, a division of the commission among the real estate agents occurs. Real estate agents may play many roles in assisting in the logistics of the real estate transaction, but their most important role is the buying and selling of the particular property.
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