New York State gets w/ the program on agency disclosure
Jan 2011 03

In the old days, you’d look to buy or sell a home by going down to see your local real estate agent. He or she would take you around, show you a couple of office listings, then wait for you to decide. If you were lucky, you’d also be able to see some homes listed by other agencies. Only if you were paying close attention would you realize that your agent, regardless of which property you saw, was most-likely representing the seller, not you. Meaning, he or she was trying to make you buy whatever the owner was selling.

That was before the advent of “buyers’ agency”, which became en vogue in the early 2000′s, here in Massachusetts. Suddenly, buyers could find representation, could hire an agent who would have their interests at heart, not the sellers’.

Around the same time, Massachusetts’ real estate rules and regulations were modified to include the requirement that agents give buyers and sellers what’s known as a “Mandatory Agency Disclosure Form”. Simply, it informs the buyer or seller as to who the agent represents – the buyer or the seller. Or, neither, in the case of a facilitator (don’t ask).

You could decide it was okay if your agent was also representing the seller on a home purchase you were interested in. And/or, you could also decide it was okay that your agent represented you while someone else at his/her brokerage represented the seller. (Those are known as dual agency and designated agency, respectively.)

Why am I mentioning this? Well, for information’s sake. As well, New York City began requiring the issuance of agency disclosure forms in the new year.

They go one step further, though. In NY State, agents have to give you these forms if you’re renting, not just if you’re buying or selling. This isn’t true in Massachusetts (well, at least yet). It occurred to me after reading the New York Times article that it might make sense for renters to get the same forms as buyers and sellers. Having said that, I think most renters are clear that their agents are representing the landlords/owners, not them, the tenants. Still, having something in writing could clarify it so that there’s no confusion.

Thoughts?

More: Commonwealth of Massachusetts Agency Disclosure information (warning, pdf)
Also: Sample Agency Disclosure form (warning, pdf)

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