Consumer, Customer, and Client – What’s the Difference?
Thanks to my good friend and colleague, Elizabeth Golden, for her contribution of this well-written article that simplifies the difference in being a customer, a client and/or a consumer.
The Real Estate Industry
Often times, we as average consumers see the terms of ‘customer’ and ‘client’ and interpret them as synonyms of similar meaning. However, within the Real Estate industry and specifically within the laws of each state, there are major and explicit differences between being a ‘Customer’ or ‘Client’ of provided Real Estate services.
Client or Customer?
Thus one of the most important pieces of information real estate consumers need to know, is that, when working with a particular real estate professional; Are you a client or a customer?
A real estate agent legally owes certain duties to a client that are different from the services they perform for a customer and primarily relate to contract negotiations and confidential or privately held information.
Real Estate Clients
In a client-relationship the real estate agent represents the client. An agent is a person who acts for or represents you in negotiations with other parties. The real estate professional when acting as an agent, must loyally represent the best interest of the client by placing the interests of their client ahead of the interests of any other party participating in the transaction and provide ALL known transaction relevant information to their client.
In a real estate transaction, when a real estate professional is employed as an agent, they are obligated to negotiate the best price and terms for their client and bring all their knowledge and skill to bare for their client, moreover a client relationship must be formalized via a signed agency agreement whether buying or selling real estate.
Real Estate Customers
In a real estate customer-relationship; customers represent themselves. A customer is a person who is provided services by a real estate professional, but who is not a client. In this case, the real estate licensee is not acting as an agent and is not obliged to place your interest ahead of other parties within the transaction nor provide known confidential information to their customer.
The actual services you receive from a real estate professional as a customer depends on the arrangement that is established between you and the licensee. Moreover, a Transaction Broker agreement specifying customer services may or may not be formalized, but the licensee is obligated to provide Transaction Broker services to customers by default. These services include: providing services honestly and in good faith; exercising reasonable care and skill; and to answer your questions completely and accurately.
Real Estate Consumers
Often times when used generically ‘consumer’ can mean either a buyer or seller, customer or client.
However here at the @Homes Realty Group; ’Consumer’ takes on a completely different meaning and makes up a very valuable and important part of our business strategy.
We are fortunate to have a very popular and successful web-presence that we provide to the general public for free and without obligation. With such a resource we have 80,000 – 100,000 real estate consumers visit our website every single month. As such we are contacted many times on a daily basis via email, phone, and text by consumers who ultimately will not become our customer or client.
Many of these consumers are already working with various local real estate agents, and we respect these existing relationships and will not violate them in any way. We also have many local agents that research these pages and have commented to us on their ease of use. Our consumer and agent website users are very important to us and we put their user experience first in all our web-design efforts and upgrades. That is why unlike many of our competitors,you will never see a forced registration mechanism to simply see public listing data. We do put our real estate consumers first even at our own expense!
Moreover almost all of the unique features that you will find on our website, including our subdivision maps, instant search technology, and one-click agent and office search mechanisms came from suggestions from you: our website users. In particular, our agent and office search mechanisms, which have brought us quite a bit of unwarranted criticism from a minority of our colleagues, yet we are making the decision to not buckle under this external pressure and continue to provide the best consumer user experience that we possibly can.
As I stated earlier, we do put our real estate consumers first, always!
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