Monday, October 25, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Fiduciary

A couple of weeks ago, a friend mentioned a new company had opened in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. He later realized it was just Fair Isaac now going by the new name, FICO. I was taken aback by the confusion because most people living in the Twin Cities north metro are aware the business analytics company, Fair Isaac Corporation, has been located in Shoreview for decades. What surprised me is that few outside the real estate and mortgage industry may have made the connection that FICO is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation.

Once again, I was a bit surprised that such a simple term I use everyday as a REALTOR® would be unknown to others. But then it got me thinking of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next several weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:

Fiduciary—A relationship of trust created when a buyer or seller signs a contract with a REALTOR®. After a contract is signed, a real estate agent has several fiduciary duties that protect their client not just through the transaction but beyond it as well. This means as a first time buyer, once you sign a contract with an agent, that agent cannot tell others anything that is private about you or your situation to anyone. In Minnesota, these duties require your agent to be loyal, confidential, and obedient with your instructions. They are accountable to you and must disclose any information they learn that would benefit you in the purchase of a home. Throughout the transaction and afterward, they must use reasonable care to protect you and your interests.

It is important for a first time buyer to understand this term because every seller that is listed with a real estate broker has a contract in place. This means when a buyer calls the listing agent for information or stop by at an open house, the friendly REALTOR® asking you about your ability to buy a home is under contract with and WORKING for the SELLER. This agent has a fiduciary duty to disclose everything you have said to the seller of the home. But it is not a two way street. The friendly agent cannot tell you anything about the seller that the seller doesn’t want you to know. Because of their contract, the agent cannot say why the seller is moving or if a price reduction is in the works.

As a home buyer, it is essential to interview potential agents to assist with the home search as soon as possible in the process. When good match is found, sign a contract with a REALTOR® so that your interests and information are protected. Then REALTOR® can make calls to other agents on homes, set up private showings and assist you through the homebuying process. The agent will work for YOU! The contract does not have to be a long term commitment. I often sign up new clients for a couple of weeks and extend the contract once we have formed a stronger relationship. Rest assured that even if you decide to part ways with your agent, the fiduciary duty to keep your information private continues forever.

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm