I-TIP: SHOPPING FOR A REALTOR
Buying a home is a major purchase and you want to make sure the people who are helping you are as invested in the decisions as you are.
The Manitoba Securities Commission investigates complaints about real estate agents and publishes disciplinary decisions. The MSC says the most common complaints it hears about real estate agents boil down to three areas: complaints stemming from property disclosure statements or lack thereof, complaints about buyers wanting to get out of a contract, and complaints about offer-to-purchase documents.
Between April 2015 and March 2016 the MSC conducted 167 real estate investigations and enforcement activities that resulted in 13 formal investigations, seven complaints which resulted in a warning or reprimand, and two complaints which resulted in further action by MSC.
While there's no sure-fire method to avoid grief with a real estate agent, there are things you can do to try and prevent rifts.
Find an agent you trust and whose opinion you value and always do a little digging on their past professional conduct. You can scan the MSC's website for real estate-related disciplinary decisions dating back to 1999.
It's also important to know that when you enlist a salesperson to represent you, you enter an agent/client relationship between you and his/her real estate firm and you don't necessarily need to sign on any dotted line for this to happen.
Typically you enter an agent/client relationship when you sign a listing contract or a buyer's agency contract, but the relationship can also be implied once an agent starts viewing properties on your behalf, digging up extra information for you, or helping you out in negotiations.
The MSC suggests shopping around a little and interviewing a few different agents. Once a contract is signed it is hard and costly to break.
Once hired, there are certain things you should expect from your agent client relationship — chief among them is loyalty. Your agent should put your best interests ahead of anyone else's and disclose all important information about the property that could influence your decision to buy.
You should also expect your agent to follow all of your instructions so long as they are within the bounds of the law. Your agent should also be discrete with your private information and treat those confidences with respect.
Real estate comes with a fair amount of paperwork, deadlines, and fact-checking. You should expect your real estate agent to be able to deftly and competently navigate through all the forms.
And finally, all money, deposits or property entrusted to your agent should be properly accounted for and indexed.
The Manitoba Securities Commission cautions that when it comes to real estate transactions in Manitoba, the buck stops with the buyer. So while you should be able to rely on an agent to get you through the process, ultimately it is on the buyer to exercise due diligence. Read all contracts from top to bottom and if there is something you don't understand ask questions until you are satisfied with the explanation.
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