What Agents Do - and Why Larry Fitzgerald Has One

There's a cat in the neighborhood that Oscar wishes to meet.

Oscar being a dog and the cat being, well, a cat, I’m not entirely convinced it’s a good idea. His interest might not be benign. When I explain this, the neighbor laughs.

He says my dog has a great agent.

An agent, in commercial law, is a person authorized to act on behalf of another. Players on the field and actors in Hollywood have agents, because when someone works hard for their best interests they earn the best deals.

Real Estate agents do the same thing.

When a Realtor works for you, she takes on fiduciary duties of loyalty, obedience, confidentiality, disclosure, and accounting.

Loyalty means putting your interests ahead of all others - including her own. Confidentiality insures your information will not be given to any other party unless you authorize it. Disclosure requires the agent tell you any information that might affect your contract. Obedience and accounting says you are the boss, and all monies must be accounted for.

So an agent’s job is to give you all the facts you need, together with the wisdom of her experience, and then do as you instruct. If a house you want to buy comes back on the market because inspection revealed a bad roof, your agent will tell you this, perhaps advising making a lower offer or instructing the seller to fix it. She won’t tell potential buyers that you are anxious to sell because you’ve accepted a job out of state, unless you authorize it to entice the buyers.

Obedience does not allow her to break the law, by the way. Termite damage will need to be disclosed to potential buyers.

When selling a home, you agree to a fee to be paid upon closing. If it doesn't sell, you don't pay. This fee covers costs, including marketing, and payments to both agents.

So if you’re buying a home, get a professional agent. She (or he) represents YOUR interests - at the seller's expense. Even when buying a new home, those warm and friendly builder's agents represent his interest, not yours. You’d be amazed what your own agent can negotiate for you - and at no cost to you.

Oscar did meet the cat, by the way. I wish I could tell you about it - but I have this duty of confidentiality.

And anyway, all the scratches healed.