Wait, Who Does My Agent Work For?

What Does Being An Unrepresented Party in Alexandria VA Mean?

In an effort to keep you, the consumer, fully informed about the real estate services you should receive and nature of you relationship with a real estate agent, Virginia law now requires you and your agent put your relationship agreement in writing.

Now, this does not mean you are contractually obligated to a specific agent for an extended period of time, although it may seem that way if not properly explained.

To be honest, nothing has really changed in regards to Agency. Agents have long had the responsibility to disclose and explain Agency fully to prospective clients, however, now the responsibility includes an obligation to put all agreements in writing.

Before a real estate agent in Alexandria VA can show you property, give opinions on a property’s condition or suggested repairs, negotiate a contract, rent, security deposit or other lease or contract provisions, you and the agent must put the nature of your relationship in writing.

It’s not complicated. And you have the right to choose to remain unrepresented, too.

Say you are starting your Alexandria VA real estate search and have just met an agent, are not sure you want to work with them, but are interested in seeing a few houses. That’s fine! You can simply sign a Disclosure of Brokerage Relationship for Unrepresented Parties, which will simply acknowledge in writing that you know what it means to be an Unrepresented Party.

So, what does that mean? Simple, it means a real estate agent who does not represent you cannot:

1. Negotiate on your behalf;
2. Represent your interests;
3. Give an opinion about the value of the property;
4. Advise you regarding property condition;
5. Owe you more than a limited duty of confidentiality; or
6. Provide any other services defined as licensed activity in the Virginia real estate regulations.

Most importantly, if you choose to be an Unrepresented Party, the real estate agent is working as a representative of the Seller. And while an agent can perform ministerial acts, such as completing a sale or lease, the agent is not allowed to perform any acts which involve discretion or exercise of the licensee’s own judgment or expertise.

Basically, an agent can show an Unrepresented Buyer property and perform ministerial acts. They cannot advise you or give you any expert opinion about the property.

Being an Unrepresented Party may also mean you will be obligated to compensate the Agent for his or her assistance since many Sellers do not offer compensation to agents who are working as Subagents for the Seller. In this case, it will be your responsibility to negotiate with your Agent how they will be paid.

By the way, if you come across an agent who does not explain this fully to you or who doesn’t explain that it is now Virginia state law to sign Agency Disclosure forms, you need to ask yourself why this is — and whether you want to work with an Agent who is not concerned about following Agency Law designed to protect you, the Consumer?

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