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Real Estate Agency in Illinois

Confused about representation options when selling or buying real estate in Illinois.  Hopefully this will help clarify your possible options.


There are some very important issues you need to understand before we get started, actually before you get started with any agent.  The first being something called Agency 


Some definitions to start:
Agency - Any relationship in which one party acts for or represents another.
Buyers Agency - An office / agent who chooses to represent only buyers.
Sellers Agency - An office / agent who chooses to represent only sellers.
Dual Agency - Where an office will allow each agent to represent sellers, buyers or both.
Dual Agent - Where an AGENT directly represents equally both seller and buyer, with the written, informed consent of all parties.
Designated Agent - In Illinois, the licensee who has direct contact with the buyer or seller is the ONLY agent considered to be the legal designated agent of that buyer, as named by the broker in accordance with office policy.
Client - The person who is being represented by a licensee (agent), unless there is a written agreement between the agent and the consumer providing for a different relationship.
Customer - A consumer who is not being represented by a licensee but for whom the licensee is performing very general ministerial acts.
Consumer - A person or entity seeking or receiving real estate brokerage services.


Will anyone represent you in your transaction?  Who?  Before you disclose any confidential information to any agent that could impact your negotiation position you need to be told by the agent at your first significant contact who they will be, or are, representing, or if they are performing "ministerial" duties (answering very general questions, etc. and no agency relationship is created), and their office's policy for Agency Representation options, etc.  You'll also be asked to sign an acknowledgement for your file and the agents compliance files.


Our office policy is the agent represents the person they are working with as their legally designated agent, unless you have a written agreement otherwise.  This is Designated Agency.  Your legal agent owes you certain fiduciary-like statutory duties such as confidentiality, promoting your best interests, exercising reasonable skill and care. 


This arrangement is with the real estate brokerage, who will designate one or more agents to be your legally designated agent, unless another type of arrangement is agreed to in writing.  


Buyers Agent - Typically, the buyer and the brokerage company will enter into a written brokerage agreement that identifies your legal designated agent, either exclusive or non-exclusive, give a specific ending date and time, and will outline the responsibilities of each party to the other.  


It's important to note that agents working with the same brokerage company may be the legal agent of other buyers competing to buy the same property you're interested in, or representing the seller from whom you buy your property.  The only agent owing you statutory duties are those designated as your legal agent and no other sales associate with that company.  


An example would be: a property comes on the market - your legal agent has 2 buyers who might be interested - you and another buyer-client (because an agent usually represents more than one buyer or one seller at a time), another agent from your agents office also has a buyer interested in the same property, and another real estate office has an interested buyer.  Let's say all four make an offer to the seller.  


All offers are presented fairly and honestly to the seller.  The seller weighs each offer on its own merit - the qualifications and readiness of the buyer (cash buyer, mortgage loan pre-approved or pre-qualified, property to sell, other contingencies, etc.), the price and terms, etc.  The seller decides what they want to do with each offer.  All buyers who made offers are given the sellers response. 


Another type of agency is when both the seller and buyer in a transaction are represented by the same legal agent.  This is allowed only with your consent and you'll be provided with a form explaining dual agency and given an opportunity to accept or decline should the situation arise.  


If you have agreed to it in the beginning and a dual agent situation develops you'll be asked to confirm your prior consent before entering into a contract for the purchase or sale of the property.  A dual agency transaction places some limitations on the legal agent, who is bound by confidentiality to both parties, when negotiating price and terms.  


For example: I have a property listed for sale and a buyer-client wants to make an offer on it.  Both my seller-client and buyer-client have previously consented to allow me to be a dual agent.  The way I handle this situation is to have my buyer-client sign a confirmation form allowing the dual agency, once agreed to in writing, we proceed to draft their offer.  Once the offer is completed and signed by the buyers, I contact my seller-client to let them know I have an offer I'd like to present as soon as possible.   

 

Once I'm face-to-face with my seller-client, I have them sign the confirmation form allowing the dual agency up front and again in the offer.  After they have signed it, I proceed to let them know the details of my buyer-clients offer.  The seller-client has three options: accept the offer as written, counter any part of it, or reject it entirely.  


Once this is completed I meet with my buyer-client and let them know the seller-clients decisions.  If the buyer-clients offer was not accepted as originally written by the seller-client, then my buyer-client has to decide what they want to do: 1) to accept the seller-client changes for the offer; 2) to counter the seller-clients counter-offer; 3) or reject the seller-client's changes and withdraw/cancel their offer.  


Negotiations keep going until we either reach an agreement, the offer is cancelled at the choice of either client, and within the parameters of the offer (time limitations, etc).  


Being a dual agent does have some restrictions.  At no time can or will I suggest a price to offer, accept, or counter with to either client or disclose confidential information.  I have to be fair and honest with both clients.  For example: if I know my seller-client is really desperate to sell, let's say because of job transfer and they need to be at their new location pronto, or if my buyer-client absolutely loves the property and is willing to pay the seller-client a gazillion dollars for it - well, I can't disclose anything that has the potential to give either client an advantage over the other.  With your written, specific direction though: I can disclose to the buyer-client you need to sell/move as quickly as possible; I can disclose to the seller-client your love of the property and will do whatever it takes to become the new owner.


Regardless of your representation choice, everyone has a mutual goal and the real estate broker is trying to assist you in the sale or purchase of real estate upon terms acceptable to all parties. 

FYI, Generally we prefer to only represent the person(s) we were working with originally and prefer not to do disclosed dual agency.  It just easier this way for everyone and there is less confusion.  


We look forward to being your trusted real estate partner.

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