What does the term “team” really mean to buyers and sellers?

By Gary Isom, Executive Director of the Arkansas Real Estate Commission

A few years ago, a new trend developed in the real estate business. Salespersons in real estate firms began referring to themselves and select associates who may or may not hold real estate licenses as “teams”.

Some of these teams were formed by agents who had been in the business for years and had developed a large clientele. To better service their clients, these agents would engage the services of newer agents to handle many of the minute details of their many transactions.

Another situation which led to teams involved licensed agents adding unlicensed specialists to their team in order to provide non-brokerage services such as staging a house to make it show better. Quite often, these teams consisted of family members.

Since there are currently only a few real estate firms in the state of Arkansas that actually have the term “team” in their firm name, odds are that the “team”  claiming to represent you has no official standing with the Arkansas Real Estate Commission. You can search the roster at www.arec.publishpath.com to determine whether your team is actually licensed in that manner. So, what does that mean to you as a buyer or seller?

You may have read a recent House to House article on agency authored by Deputy Executive Director, Andrea Alford. In her article, Andrea spoke about how each real estate firm has a Principal Broker and that all brokerage relationships with consumer clients are directly through that individual Principal Broker. Even though you may have never met the Principal Broker, your agency relationship is still with that person. The agent that listed your property or wrote your offer can only do so through the Principal Broker with whom he or she is licensed.

What this means is that while you may be under the impression that you have an agency relationship with a particular team in a real estate firm, the reality is that your agency relationship is through the Principal Broker of that firm and not with the team or any member of the team.

What this also means is that your representation as a seller or buyer goes far beyond the team with which you are working. For example, if, as a buyer, you are working with the Super Elite Team, made up of some of the agents licensed under the Principal Broker of Under Achievers Realty, then all agents with Under Achievers Realty represent you to the same degree as the members of the Super Elite Team. That can actually be to your advantage since you have more agents than just the team members representing you.

On the other hand, if another agent in Under Achievers Realty lists a property, every agent in that firm, including the members of your team of Super Elites, represents that seller. So if you, as a buyer, are interested in a property listed with Under Achievers Realty, members of your Super Elite Team will represent you as a dual agent, meaning they represent both you and the seller equally. This must be with both your and the seller’s written consent.

If you decide you want total single agency representation to make an offer on a property listed with Under Achievers Realty, you will have to do so through an agent who is not licensed with Under Achievers Realty, which of course means the members of the Super Elite Team would be unable to represent you.

The mission of the Arkansas Real Estate Commission is to protect members of the public who utilize the brokerage services of those persons our agency licenses. If you ever have questions as to who actually represents you in a real estate transaction and to what degree, contact our Investigations section at 501 683-8010.

House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association.  For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.