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Licensee, Realtor, Agent -- all the same? Part III

John Doran


Licensee, Realtor, Agent, all the same?
Part III What is An Agent?

Okay, now we know what it takes to become licensed and what it means to be a Realtor®. So, why are we always referring to real estate people as “agents”?

In NH, a licensee, whether a Realtor® or not, becomes an agent by contract. The first agent role is the one the salesperson takes on by joining a real estate firm and working under a licensed broker. In that capacity, the salesperson/licensee works as an agent for the broker. Most often the salesperson is not an employee, but rather an independent contractor. The duties, obligations, and benefits of the relationship are spelled out in a written contract between that broker and the individual agent.

As one of the Broker's "agents" the individual can now enter into contracts with consumers such as: listing agreements, buyer representation contracts, etc. He or she can legally bind the broker to performing certain services. The salesperson/licensee in this role acts on behalf of the broker/owner of the firm. Consequently, all contracts taken are actually between the Broker and the consumer with the individual agent representing the firm. You probably have noticed when an individual agent leaves one firm and joins another, that person's listings typically stay with the prior firm.

The other "agent" role the salesperson/licensee plays is as agent for the consumer. This is a little more complicated, so bear with me. When the salesperson/licensee lists a property for sale, the Brokerage Agreement is between the firm in the person of the Principal Broker, and Seller. In some real estate companies the entire firm - all its licensees - become agents for that seller. In other firms only the agent who listed the property is ‘agent' for, that is actually represents that seller. The same is true when an individual licensee agrees to act as a Buyer's Agent through a Buyer Agency Agreement. It may be that the whole firm, all the "agents, become agents for that Buyer, or that only that individual agent represents that Buyer. Always ask licensees what business model their firm employs. It may make a difference – to you! The reality is, of course, whether Buyer or Seller, you typically are in direct contact with "your agent" and only meet the others or, for that matter the Broker, in passing.

Note that, in NH, in order to comply with real estate license law, all agency contracts – representing a seller by listing a property or representing a buyer in the purchase of a property – must be in writing and contain some very specific information. The Real Estate Practice Act, contains an entire section defining and clarifying the roles and duties of agents in real estate.

Doesn't it just annoy the heck out of you when you just go to see a house and the agent wants you to read and sign some form first?!?! Believe me…it is just as annoying to us as it is to you! But, it is the law! Every licensee is required to present that form to you at first business meeting. It comes right out of the above. It's there for you – to better help you understand what role that agent is playing and what duties and obligations they have to you and to their client.

By John Doran, GRI, CRP, ABR
All rights reserved

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RealtorJohn DoranEqual Housing
REALTOR® / Educator

4 Bow Lane, Unit 203
Bedford, NH 03110
Office / Cell: 603-566-9921