While we’re still a month away from this year’s Greater Chattanooga Open House Weekend (April 25-26), many fellow Realtors already are commenting they are busier than ever. Whether looking to sell or buy your next home, chances are good that you will interact with a Realtor, even if you’ve not yet engaged them in an agency capacity. One of the most important things to understand when you are looking at homes is Real Estate Agency.

You may venture into an open house in your own neighborhood out of curiosity for how the Jones’s live. You may strike up a conversation on the sidelines at your kids’ soccer game. Perhaps you see a Realtor name badge at the grocery store and ask them about the market.

More expected scenarios are ones in which you initiate contact about a specific property – attending an open house or calling the number on a yard sign. Another occasion might be at the church social when you ask a longtime friend and Realtor to pull together information on available properties as you begin your home search.

With so many opportunities to inquire, it is important to consider whom the Realtor represents for the property in question. In some cases, it might be prudent to take agency into consideration before saying too much.

It is logical to assume the Realtor hosting the open house is the listing agent working on behalf of the seller. However, it could be a Realtor filling in for someone at their same firm. Regardless, when engaging a Realtor in conversation about a property, it may be better to keep your comments to yourself. For example, should you happen to love the house and verbalize aloud how much you’d be willing to pay, you might be showing your cards to the Realtor, who is obligated to provide this information to their client – the seller.

I share these scenarios, not to paint Realtors in a bad light, but to emphasize that Realtors have a duty, per the Code of Ethics, to protect and promote the interest of their client. And depending on the situation, it might not be you. Realtors want to help you get into your dream home. Yet, we need your help in protecting you from yourself.

The exclusive listing agent for a seller, the listing agent is charged with looking out for the seller’s best interest to market the property and get the best deal for the seller. A home often is the largest purchase in one’s lifetime. Thus, buyer should seek out someone they trust to confide in and to assist them in finding the right home to meet their needs.

While many buyers may find a potential home through their own research or attending open houses, national statistics show that buyers still prefer to seek out the counsel of a Realtor to get them from the first view of the home to a successful closing. A Realtor can assist the buyer in pointing out unnoticed faults or features and aide in negotiations on the buyer’s behalf.

In real estate agency conversations, it makes a difference having your own agent to protect your interests. When representing a client, the Realtor’s job is to look out for you. Keep that in mind when talking casually at an open house or at a neighborhood cookout – what you say might be information the Realtor is obligated to tell the seller or a buyer client, who might have similar interests in the same property.

If you’re a seller and want to make sure your home is part of Greater Chattanooga Open House Weekend (April 25-26), contact your Realtor to make sure the open house is registered with the Multiple Listing Service. If you’re a buyer ready to start looking, make sure to engage a Realtor and ask them which homes to preview.


The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

GCAR is “The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga.” The Association is a regional organization with more than 1,500 members and is one of more than 1,400 local boards and associations of REALTORS nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit www.gcar.net.

By Travis Close, ABR, GREEN, GRI, e-PRO
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors