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What is the fiduciary relationship between a buyer's agent and client in the Tampa area?

Does the buyer's agent represent the interests of the seller, as in some areas, or are they legally bound to serve the buyer? What is the typical compensation arrangement?
  • March 29 2011 - Oldsmar
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Answers (6)

Profile picture for flukeslap
I was wondering the same thing as SteadyState about Michele's post. What, for instance, would the legal description of "loyalty" be, and how would that be argued in a court of law? 

My original question really relates to whether or not Florida buyer agents are legally (not just ethically) bound to work completely in the best interest of the buyer. After all, commissions are involved, so all agents who are party to a potential transaction want to make it happen. 

In short, is there any guaranteed advantage to using a buyer agent in the state of Florida, or should one simply find an agent they feel comfortable with, and trust them "only so far?"

I realize that I'm asking real estate agents to answer this question, so there is some inherent risk here.  Thanks for your candor, everyone!
  • March 29 2011
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Steady State,

There is plenty of case law on this very point.  The great majority of agents I know and work with are very committed to their duties, whether as a single agent or a transaction broker.  There are plenty of very real consequences to violation of their duties.  By the way, we need to be mindful of our Good Neighbor policy also.
  • March 29 2011
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Michele -
Nice words on paper but how does one "prove that"
1. The agent has been unfair and dishonest?
2. The agent was disloyal?
3. The agent violated your confidentiality?
4. The agent was disobedient?
5. The agent hid or obfuscated facts from you?
6. The agent was sloppy, careless, and/or negligent?
7. The agent did not disclose all offers/counter offers?
8. The agent did not disclose a material non-observable fact?

This agreement is not worth the toilet paper on which it can be written. Are there more tangible agreements that have real consequences if the agent does not act as a fiduciary?
  • March 29 2011
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Please note that I am not an agent in Florida, but that I feel very strongly about this issue.  

I'm a buyer's agent only, and fight tooth and nail for my clients.  If you don't feel like your agent is representing you and your interests first, fire him or her.  The market is loaded with qualified, hungry agents that will go to the farthest ends of the world and back for you.  

This is no time to be "nice".  If you have an uneasy feeling about your agent - you're probably right - and you should move on from him.

Good Luck.
  • March 29 2011
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Please be aware that most agents in Florida work as "Transaction Broker
s" who have limited responsiblity to either party. 

A traditional  "Buyers Agent" can start out as a single agent and transition to a transaction broker...unless you work with an exclusive buyers agent who works in a Buyer Agency Office that never represents sellers....exclusive buyers agents are legally bound to serve the buyer 100% of the time.

They are typically compensated by the listing office or seller, no differently than any other agent.

There are less than 50 exclusive buyers agents in the state of Florida...To find one, go to the consumer website NAEBA.org. 
  • March 29 2011
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Here is a list of the Single Agent Broker Relationship that a Buyers Agent can provide when you sign the Single Agent Agreement which gives you full fiduciary representation.

Compensation is paid by the Seller as per the MLS listing agreement or the Builder Contract. 

SINGLE AGENT NOTICE

FLORIDA LAW REQUIRES THAT REAL ESTATE LICENSEES OPERATING AS SINGLE AGENTS DISCLOSE TO BUYERS AND SELLERS THEIR DUTIES.

As a single agent, ____________________ (insert name of Real Estate Entity and its Associates) owe to you the following duties:

1. Dealing honestly and fairly;

2. Loyalty;

3. Confidentiality;

4. Obedience;

5. Full disclosure;

6. Accounting for all funds;

7. Skill, care, and diligence in the transaction;

8. Presenting all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner, unless a party has previously directed the licensee otherwise in writing; and

9. Disclosing all known facts that materially affect the value of residential real property and are not readily observable.

  • March 29 2011
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