Buying or selling a home? Know this important difference

Monday Mar 05th, 2018


Buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience, so you want to make sure you find the right agent who is on your side to make the process smoother.

When you work with a real estate salesperson, you might be asked to sign either a Buyer Representation Agreement or a Listing Agreement, which makes you a client of their brokerage, or a Customer Service Agreement, which makes you a customer. Client and customer may sound similar, but there's an important difference.

If you're a client, the brokerage owes you a fiduciary duty. This means your salesperson has to act in your best interests and serve as your champion to get you the best possible deal in a real estate transaction.

As a customer, you are still entitled to ethical and honest conduct from your salesperson, but they may or may not be looking out for your best interests or trying to get you the best deal possible. They might give you information, but not necessarily any advice.

This can become a problem in situations that involve “double-ending” or multiple representation. The most common multiple representation situation is when a salesperson represents both the buyer and seller. You should enter a relationship that best meets your needs and interests.

For over 20 years, the Real Estate Council of Ontario has been looking out for buyers and sellers by enforcing the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002. Last year, they asked the government to tighten the rules around multiple representation and to eliminate the customer option altogether. The government is considering changes to the rules now.

In the meantime, the council strongly recommends signing on with a brokerage as a client, not a customer. That's especially important if you're buying or selling your first home.

Find more information about your rights and responsibilities when buying or selling a home at

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