Are you a Customer or a Client?

If you are buying a home, it is important to know if your agent views you as a Customer or a Client. You may ask “What’s the difference?” until you read a post like this one written by an agent titled “Are you a Customer or a Client? Do you know the difference?” and the many comments by agents that follow.

Here is a quote from that post, written by a Real Estate Agent in Idaho, in case it is later removed by the writer from public view:

“As a Realtor, I work with both customers and clients.  Do you know the difference? I am a real estate agent when I’m working for my clients.  I am a non-agent when working with my customers.  The difference is whether or not you and I have entered into a written agreement for agency representation.”

I personally don’t agree that is the case in the State of Washington. Below is my comment on the above linked post:

“As Nathan said…in his State of Florida the default is NO representation. In my State of WA Buyer Representation IS the default.

NAR cannot legistlate this nationally …and this post is NOT true in the State of WA where all buyers are granted full representation by our Agency Laws, unless they are dealing directly with the listing AGENT not the listing Company.

There is only ONE person in this State of Washington who does not represent the buyer by Law vs by Contract, and that is the Listing AGENT.

Unfortunately, many agents here read posts like this and think it applies to them. Even the ABR class is taught that way here…that buyer is customer without a written contract…even though that is NOT TRUE here. Drives me bananas.

IF you work in the State of Washington…read that pamphlet on The Law of Agency that you hand to buyers. It says that you REPRESENT that buyer…by Law…without the need for a buyer signing a written contract to be a “CLIENT” vs a “customer”.

We have no buyer “customers” here unless the buyer signs a NO AGENCY agreement. You have to waive the representation by contract here…not get representation by contract. It is the opposite of most States, unless the buyer chooses to work with The Agent for the Seller aka The Listing Agent. All other agents, including every other agent in the Listing Brokerage…represents the buyer, by Law.

But likely 95% of agents don’t “get” that…because of writings like this one. There is NO national standard on this. State Laws apply.”

I run into agents all the time who do not understand that in the State of Washington ALL buyers are represented as CLIENTS, unless they choose to work with The Agent for the Seller or sign a NO AGENCY agreement. Agents read posts like the one I linked to…or take National Courses noting the distinction between Buyer as Client vs Buyer as Customer, and think they can treat a buyer as a customer they SELL something TO vs a Client that they represent in all facets of home selection and purchase.

Drives me absolutely bananas!

Ask your agent how you can become a Client vs a Customer. If they say you must sign a Buyer Agency Agreement to be a client…or if they say there is no difference…then they are likely treating you as a “customer” vs a client…and there IS a difference.

10 thoughts on “Are you a Customer or a Client?

  1. Actually Jerry, I am pretty much the lone dissenter who says it does NOT change things and that all buyers in the State of Washington are Clients without a signed agreement.

    Funny thing is I was so very happy that was true here vs in other States. But it’s only true if people understand the Law. Unfortunately Agents here are told they shouldn’t even TRY to understand the Law…just “do as they are told” like children.

    Sad really…

  2. The problem Jerry, that I have seen, is the agents who want a written contract most want it because they always lose clients to other agents. The answer to that is for them to be better at what they do, not to get a contract so the buyer can’t leave for someone who IS better at what they do. I wish that were not the case, but all too often it is.

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