Selecting an Agent or Broker
Licensing . Real estate agents and brokers are required by law to be licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate (formerly the Department of Real Estate.) Make sure to look up your real estate sales person and/or their supervising broker and check for a history of discipline. (You may do this by clicking on this link http://search.dre.ca.gov/integrationaspcode/). Make sure the salesperson and the broker are both licensed and in good standing.
Listing Agreements. If you are a Seller, it is wise to consult with an attorney before signing a listing agreement. Most real estate listing agreements contain provisions that say that if the agent finds a buyer who is “ready, willing and able” to purchase your property at the listing price, the agent and broker are entitled to a commission. All too often Sellers do not realize they may be liable for a commission if they later decide to take their property off the market.
Avoid Dual Agency. Dual agency means the agent or broker represents both the buyer and the seller. By law an agent is required to disclose a dual agency because of the inherent dangers that can arise when an agent has a conflicts of interest. Many brokers try to resolve dual agency issues by assigning different agents within the same real estate office to represent different sides of the agreement but these agents are still colleagues in the same office. Such solutions remove the technical conflict but not the relationships and interactions. If at all possible it is best to avoid dual agency situations.
Finding a Real Estate Agent or Broker. Do your homework and ask around to make sure you are dealing with an experienced and ethical representative. Do not select someone as your agent simply because they are listing a house you looked at or because you received their flyer in the mail. Ask for references and ask questions. Make sure the agent or broker is experienced with your type of property. Each type of property has its own issues. If you are buying property in a probate sale, make sure your agent has experience with probate sales. Similarly, if you are buying or selling a condominium, a property that would be subject to a short sale, or a property that has any other specialized issue, make sure your agent or broker has experience in this area.If your agent or broker is a member of the California Association of Realtors (CAR) they are held to certain ethical guidelines but even that does not guarantee you have selected the correct person for the job. For more information on the CAR see www.car.org/.