In your last real estate transaction did you receive your old car? I don’t mean a beat up old jalopy. What I’m referring to is receiving proper fiduciary duties from your real estate agent. OLD CAR is an acronym that refers to Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accounting, and Reasonable Care.
Every state has their own set of rules and regulations that real estate agents must follow. All states spell out (usually in great detail) the fiduciary duties, ethics, and standards that are due a client. In my state of New Jersey I must put my clients’ needs above my own at all times. This includes my commission as well. For an occupation where your pay is 100% commission this can seem unfair. The reason behind this is for the protection of the public. How often do most people buy or sell real estate? With rules, conditions and the market in constant flux, you the consumer needs to be protected.
Let me explain a little more about OLD CAR. If you’re my client, I need to obey your instructions as long as they’re legal. I must be loyal and keep your best needs ahead of any other party. Disclosure refers to disclosing material facts to you that might cause you to change your purchase or sale decision. I must keep anything I learn about you, your property, business, finances, motivation, etc. in confidence. I can only disclose information for which you’ve given me permission. I need to provide accurate and updated accounting of all documents and funds related to the transaction. Reasonable Care is all about taking care of you and making sure you’re well informed every step of the way. I need to do everything in my power and knowledge to guide you through the transaction including things like advising on price, negotiating, repairs, and property usage.
You might ask why would I talk about this topic? The answer is simple; an informed client is better prepared. For many people buying real estate is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make so it’s not the time to be shy. Ask questions, find out what your agent is and can do for you. Are you comfortable sharing details of your life with them?
Prior to real estate I was in a career that relocated my family and I frequently. During all these relocations, I’ve met both good and bad real estate agents. My wife and I often felt overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated. As a Realtor, I want to make sure that my clients are treated how my family and I wanted to be treated. An agent should properly educate, prepare, and communicate with their clients so they are well informed and ready for the transaction. When this is done properly, a real estate transaction is not so scary and you have your OLD CAR with you.