It is vital to understand the duties/roles of real estate agents in order to learn the extent to which you may hold them liable for their actions. The lack of knowledge of these duties consequently leads to gross violations of the rights of your rights as a buyer in a particular real estate transaction. A fiduciary relationship is a relationship of trust between a principal (the buyer) and an agent (the real estate agent). The agent is thereby entrusted with the responsibility of making decisions for the best interest of his client. This is also a legal and ethical relationship which means that the agent has his duties and obligations set out in a given legal regime.
In essence fiduciary duties require a real estate agent to be candid, trustworthy and honest in discharging his functions to the buyer. These functions include negotiation, reviewing documents, reviewing contracts and making/receiving requisite payments. A breach of the duties will result in irreparable damages on the buyer, and therefore it is prudent that the purchaser is aware of these duties in order to seek redress in a court of law in case of a breach.
This duty requires that the agent must be willing and ready to reveal all material facts of the transaction to his clients. The facts herein may be those acquired before or after the commencement of their contractual relationship. However, the agent will not be held liable for information that was beyond his knowledge during the contractual period.
Information is crucial in real estate transactions, and therefore the agent is required by law to safeguard information obtained during his contractual relationship with the buyer.
The realtor must employ his best skills and knowledge to protect the buyer from inherent risks of the transactions.
At all times, the agent must strive to act in the best interests of the buyer and in doing so he must exclude all other interests including his own. Such loyalty is required even when the agent identifies an opportunity to capitalize on profits that would ultimately hurt his client. For example, if an agent identifies a property that suits his preference as well as that of his client, it is prudent that priority is accorded to the client.
The agent must always keep a separate account from that of his clients. Further, he must undertake to give the buyer a timely report whenever money is paid or received and when required, he ought to give an account of his dealings.