Relationship disclosure: What to expect
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

Q:The first we knew that the salesperson showing our home was working for the buyer was when he brought us an offer. Shouldn't this have occurred earlier?

A:The amount and type of disclosure regarding who represents whom is determined by each state's licensing laws in tandem with state laws that apply. But most states, and licensees in those states, take the "earlier is better than later" approach to agency disclosure. This has come about by consumers such as yourself who want to know not only who represents them but who represents the other players in the transaction as well.

Many states require that the buyer's agent specify (usually at first contact with the listing agent, the listing agent's office and/or the seller) if he or she is representing someone other than the seller. At that point, if the seller has not agreed to work with agents representing buyers, that agent can be so informed. (This very rarely happens today since buyer's agents comprise a large part of many marketplaces and therefore contribute to a high percentage of successful sales.)

Buyer's agents are certainly not to be feared. The only difference between them and the salesperson representing your interests is that their allegiance is to their client -- the party that many sellers thought was representing the buyer all along.