Understand your home seller protection before selling a home in MA because it will make all the difference in your home selling experience.
MA Mandatory Relationship Disclosure
First and foremost, be aware of the MA Mandatory Relationship Disclosure. A real estate agent is required to provide this disclosure during the very first discussion about a property. The mandatory relationship disclosure clearly states who the agent is representing; specifically, the home seller or the home buyer.
Massachusetts real estate law includes strong consumer protection and enforcement of the mandatory relationship disclosure. Therefore, be sure to work with a real estate agent who not only understands the law but also respects and follows real estate law. If a real estate agent does not provide the mandatory relationship disclosure before discussing a property; you do not know for certain who the agent is representing.
Home Seller Protection: Agency Relationships
There are four types of real estate agency relationship in Massachusetts:
- Listing Agent: A listing agent represents the seller to market and sell a home. The seller and listing agent sign a listing agreement to formalize all details.
- Sub-Agent: A sub-agent is any other agent who is not a listing agent and also not a buyer’s agent. A sub-agent shows property to a homebuyer and represents the seller. Secondly, real estate agents who work as a sub-agent also pose a legal risk to the seller called “vicarious liability”.
- Buyer’s Agent: A buyer’s agent represents the homebuyer; they do not represent the Seller. The buyer’s agent will help a homebuyer perform due diligence. Additionally, a buyer’s agent is held accountable for answers they provide to homebuyer questions about a property.
- Facilitator: A real estate agent in the role of facilitator may show property and provide paperwork to a homebuyer; however, they are not allowed to advise a homebuyer on sale price or terms.
In Massachusetts, a real estate agent may not interpret the law or provide legal counsel to Clients unless they are an Attorney of Law. Consult with your real estate attorney to review all questions and concerns. The only person you should rely upon to explain legal liability, financial consequences, and exposure to risk is your Attorney.
Home Seller Protection: Agent Fiduciary
Real estate agents are required to fulfill very important fiduciary responsibilities, including:
- Undivided Loyalty: A real estate agent may not advance interests adverse to the client’s interest. Agent may not conduct client’s business to benefit the agent, a customer, a sub-agent, or any other interests to the detriment of the client.
- Obedience: A real estate agent is required to act subject to the client’s continuous control. Agent may not exceed the scope of authority conferred by the principal. Agent is to obey and follow all lawful instructions.
- Reasonable Care and Diligence: A real estate agent is required to protect the client from foreseeable risks of harm. Agent is to recommend the client obtain expert advice or assistance when a client’s needs are outside the scope of the agent’s expertise.
- Confidentiality: A real estate agent may not communicate personal information about the client that is given or acquired within the scope of employment as an agent to the client. Personal information must be kept confidential unless the client releases the agent from this duty.
- Full Disclosure: A real estate agent is to disclose affirmatively all information concerning the transaction which might affect the client’s decisions.
- Accounting: A real estate agent is to promptly report to client all money and property received and paid out. Upon request, the Agent is to render an accounting and safeguard money or property held on behalf of the client.