As professionals working within the real estate industry, we are and should be held to the highest standards under the law when it comes to protecting the interests of our client. You’ll find many definitions of “fiduciary duty,” but this one seems to sum it up perfectly.
“A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person(s) to whom she/he owes the duty (her/his client); they must not put their personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from their position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents.”
As a fiduciary your responsibilities include, but are not limited to…
- Avoiding conflicts of interest
- Acting in the interest of the client rather than one’s personal interest
- Providing oversight to assure that all business is transacted legally
- Making decisions to protect the assets of the client.
For this reason, I have been an advocate for higher standards when it comes to transparency within our industry so that the consumer can make more informed decisions and be sure that the professionals that they hire are being true to their fiduciary duty.
If you’re selling, buying or even refinancing real estate, you should not only expect but demand this level of service and care from the professionals that represent you. If you’re not sure how to identify the individuals and companies that are worth your time to consider, here are a few suggestions.
- Get referrals from trusted friends and family members.
- Ask for references or read through the testimonials on the individual's or company’s website or social media. If there’s no one saying good things about them, there might not be anything good to say.
- Ninety percent of consumers begin their search for goods and services on the internet. If the individual or company that you’re considering doesn’t have a web presence that offers relevant information and clearly explains their services and the cost of those services, move on.
- Ask questions. A true professional will be more than happy to educate you, and would be reluctant to have you sign anything until they were sure you had a clear understanding as to what you are agreeing to.
- Most importantly, if you don’t have a good feeling about an individual or his/her company, trust your instincts. Thank them for their time and continue searching for the right situation.
The bottom line… as with all industries, you’ll come across so-called professionals who can’t spell fiduciary duty, let alone understand what it means. It’s not your job to explain it to them. Conversely, when you put the right team together it will be rather obvious as to who has your best interests in mind.