Customer or Client? Which are you? / by Dan Case

Most of us know what's it's like to be a Customer. As I started writing this blog post I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for my food to be brought to my table. While there I over heard my server greet the customers at the table next to me. It was a husband and wife probably in their mid 60's. As the server approached the table he said "How are you two ladies doing today?"....... Now in his defense the husband was wearing a white sweatshirt with a wolf portrait on it and he had curly white hair. We know what's it's like to be a Customer don't we? Many days it seems like customer service is a lost art. I don't know about you but I enjoy and reward excellent customer service, I notice it and try to verbalize my appreciation when it's done well. In real estate there two main designations that are given to buyer's and seller's in a real estate transaction. Customer or Client. The designation you have depends on the type of Agency relationship you have with a real estate brokerage. If you are a Client you know it. You would know that you were based upon documents that you would sign early on in the listing/buying process. Being a Client means something significant in real estate, it's a special type of relationship not found in many other professions. In a moment we will talk about the differences between Clients and Customers in real estate and I hope this post helps you better understand how important it is to know the difference.

Sometimes when buying a home you may not realize that the designation of Client is even available and what it means for you. A listing agent (the agent selling a home) truly has only one Client in regards to a particular listing.  The listing agent's Client is the homeowner. If you were to contact that agent about buying that home the listing agent would treat you as the Customer. This is an important things to know going into a transaction because real estate agents treat Customers and Clients VERY differently. Lets look at the difference it makes being a Customer vs. being a Client. Here are the responsibilities a real estate agent has to each:

Customer: Fairness & Honesty

Client: Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accountability, & Reasonable Care/Diligence

Now as you look at the differences between how a Customer and a Client are treated in a real estate transaction which would you rather be? Remember that buying/selling a house is one of the biggest decisions you will make. Again I ask, which would you rather be? If Agent Sally was the listing agent for 123 E. Main St. her Client would be the homeowner, if you approached her about buying that house you would be her Customer. That means that while she will be fair and honest with you her main goal is to take care of her Client, the homeowner. Which means your wants and needs are not the listing agent's concern. If you were the buyer would this be the best way to buy this home? Do you think you would get it for a good price? Would you feel comfortable about the process at all? If you buy a lot of houses you might be, but if this is your first or second time buying a house you probably wouldn't feel great about the situation. 

Here's some good news for those of you thinking about buying a home. The commission for a buyer's agent is built into the listing costs for a property. That means that if you use a buyers agent to buy a home their commission is paid for by the seller! It comes out of the proceeds the homeowner would get when the house is sold. So you can go from being a Customer to a Client for no additional cost to you. That changes everything when trying to buy a house. Now like the seller, you have an advocate working on your behalf to make sure the price, condition of the home, and terms are what you are comfortable with. You are no longer a Customer, you a now a Client. It doesn't make sense to go through the the home buying process alone, let a buyer's agent go to work for you. If you are starting a search for a new home give us a call, our team would love to go to work for you. What are your thoughts or questions on this? Post them below.