About Buyer Agents
Real estate transactions are not simple transactions. Most buyers and sellers need advice, and the key is to find a competent real estate broker in MA. A buyer agent is an agent working for the home buyer in a real estate transaction.
The standards and definition of buyer agency have blurred over the years as national real estate companies have attempted to alter the definition of buyer agency. Unfortunately, it is confusing for the home buyer, the consumer, and the burden is placed on the consumer to be able to clearly differentiate who is a real buyer agent.
The courts view real estate brokers as agents in the legal sense, meaning they are fiduciaries. Fiduciaries are individuals in positions of trust who act on behalf of others. Examples of other agents/fiduciaries are attorneys, accountants and trust officers in banks.
If you form an agency relationship with a real estate broker, the current law mandates that as your agent he owes you, the client, very specific duties. For example, an agent must put your interest first even before his own, be obedient to your wishes (within the law), protect your confidentiality, disclose facts that might affect your decisions, and negotiate on your behalf. The courts view an agent as an advocate of one party, not as a middleman or facilitator for both buyer and seller.
If you decide that you want only the services of a true agent, one working only for you as a home buyer, find one who will commit in writing to an agency/fiduciary relationship. If you are a seller, your listing agreement should include a disclosure explaining the agency status of the broker.
Transactional Brokers - The Gray Area
Until recently, real estate brokers were liable in all states as fiduciaries under the common law of agency. However, there are brokers who do not want to be accountable to the public in this way. As a result, legislation has passed (or is pending in a few states) to create a new category of broker called transactional broker (also called limited agent or neutral agent).
A transactional broker walks and talks like an agent/fiduciary, but he or she is not accountable to the consumer as such. Hiring a transactional broker would be like hiring an attorney who says that they will provide legal services, but then they aren't liable to you for their advice. Interview real estate brokers before working with them. Be confident in their expertise and the role they are committed to providing you. Buyer beware.