Buying or selling a home or property can be easier — here’s why hiring a real estate agent can be a great strategy.
Whether you’re a full-service “client” or limited realtor “customer”, your real estate brokerage has to treat you fairly, honestly, and with integrity.
Understand the difference between being a client vs a customer, and what services you can expect when you hire a real estate agent in Ontario.
What is the code of ethics for REALTORS®?
Client vs customer – what’s the difference?
Find a local realtor or lawyer
Your Realtor’s Duty and CREA
Licensed realtors assure you of professional, competent service. Always choose a Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) member if you want:
- honesty and integrity
- co-operation and fairness
- and personal accountability.
Look for the trademarked REALTOR® symbol on their business card and website.
Your CREA realtor will know the local market and prices and trends in your neighbourhood. They will list your home on the MLS (multiple listing service) to let other realtors know about it. They will ensure your listing and advertising are accurate. They can answer any questions you have, so you understand what you are signing. And, you can be sure they will disclose any conflicts of interest and keep your information confidential.
You can be sure a REALTOR® will disclose any conflicts of interest and keep your information confidential. You can hold them to it by notifying CREA.
Why you need a real estate lawyer to close the deal.
REALTOR® or Real Estate Agent: What It Means For You
A REALTOR® is a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which has its own code of ethics. Your agent can use the trademarked symbol and is committed to professional, competent service, honesty and integrity, civility, co-operation and fairness, and personal accountability.
Article 3 (page 7) commits your REALTOR® to follow your instructions, provided they are not illegal, and not making false representations to you. Article 9 (page 10) of the code of ethics requires a REALTOR® to disclose potential conflicts of interest. See for yourself. Download the REALTOR® code of ethics.
Real estate agents, on the other hand, are employed by real estate brokerages and registered with the Real Estate Association of Ontario (RECO). They are bound by the code of ethics in the Real Estate Agents and Business Brokers Act, of 2002. Read the real estate agent’s code of ethics.
Both can help you buy and sell real estate in Ontario, and belong to either or both associations.
Are You a Client vs Customer?
Most Ontario home sellers and buyers sign a client representation agreement. It gives you all the advantages and expenses a full-service realty brokerage can offer. Your realtor’s duty to client agreement promotes and protects your best interests, known as their fiduciary obligation to you. Signing the offer means your realtor agrees to organize showings and negotiate written offers for you.
But if you’re used to buying or selling properties yourself, a customer service arrangement may be all you need. Customer service agreements are legally binding and let you ditch the realtor’s commission by doing most of the work yourself. They’re similar, but more limited than the services a realtor’s duty to client promises. How to determine if you’re a real estate agent’s client vs customer. More on the client vs customer relationships.
For example, you might sign a customer service agreement to get help with home staging, open houses, or advertising a property for sale, but take written offers yourself. You pay only for the services you use, without the commission. More on your realtor’s duty to you.
Signing the Representation Agreement
Signing the Representation Agreement
You may have signed real estate representation agreements before. This time around, your purchase or sale is more complicated. When you are:
- sharing a mortgage for a co-housing unit
- having a family member co-sign
- using the other party’s lawyer to save money
- or doing anything out of the ordinary
get an independent legal advice (ILA) certificate. It’s your, and a court’s, assurance you had legal advice before bought, sold, or refinanced real estate that could cause you financial or legal issues later on. FAQs on independent legal advice (scroll to bottom of page).
What to know about the fine print in buyer representation agreements.
4 Tactics for Saving on Real Estate Commissions
On the other hand, when you want or need to keep real estate commission costs down:
- Use discount real estate brokerages, like 1% realtors, or flat fee services like Purple Bricks and For Sale by Owner.
- Take advantage of private sales.
- Ask a family friend to assist or handle your home sale yourself.
- Let a realtor represent both you and the seller, called dual agency or multiple representations.
Cancel a realtor agreement to list your home.
Find Local Realtors and Real Estate Lawyers
To find a licensed realtor in your area, go to: www.realtor.ca.
When you’re ready to make an offer to purchase, bring your draft or signed agreement of purchase and sale to Axess Law. You can meet your Ontario real estate lawyer in the comfort of your home or office when you use our virtual lawyer service, or in person at Axess Law law offices near you. What to bring to your virtual real estate lawyer appointment. It’s easy and convenient.
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Affordable Real Estate Lawyers, Anywhere You Are
Access lawyers for less in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat-fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all-inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it. Hire a real estate lawyer anywhere in Ontario.
Make Phone or Online Appointments
Get free quotes by calling our 647-479-0118 lawyer line in Toronto, or toll-free to 1-877-402-4207. You can use our easy online booking form to make online appointments yourself. For personal assistance scheduling convenient dates and times, drop by any Axess Law Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa law office. We have onsite parking and major transit access.
Click here for more on Axess Law’s affordable real estate lawyers.