Real Estate Consumer Ed #1: Maryland Agents

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Real Estate

After 13+ years as a real estate agent, 12+ as co-owner of a real estate brokerage,  and 20+ as an attorney (I'm licensed in Maryland and in New York and have worked in private practice and as a prosecutor),  I have seen a lot of screwy things happen in real estate.  So I am going to set out to blog tidbits of info to help the Maryland real estate consumer: ie what you should know if you are ever going to buy or sell real estate ! 


What are they exactly?  You'd be surprised that even some of them don't even know!

In Maryland, the Real Estate Commission of  Department of Labor and Licensing regulates real estate agents and brokers.  (check to see if someone is licensed here and the requirements to become an agent or broker) .

Maryland issues real estate "salesperson", "associate broker" and "broker" licenses.  A REALTOR(R) is someone who is one of these who has joined the National Association of REALTORS(R) trade association. REALTOR is trademarked and ONLY members can use this word and trademark. There ARE "agents" out there who are NOT NAR members and therefore do not (should not) use "REALTOR".

The word "AGENT" is actual a legal term meaning one who stands in the place of the "principle" and acts on their behalf.  DLLR does not issue "agent" licenses, but for years the term "real estate agent" has been used for that person who lists your house for sale or the person who you call to "show me that house."

Agent/salespeople and associate brokers cannot legally function without 'working for' a broker. The broker is ultimately the person who is responsible for the agent/salesperson.  Their relationship is usually not employer-employee but one as an independent contractor but the broker must set rules and standards in place for the agent/salespeople & associate brokers and ensure that they are operating within legal and ethical parameters.  Unfortunately, consumers face trouble when their "agent" acts without authority from their broker or their client.

Agents/salespeople are usually NOT attorneys (I am an exception) nor accountants/CPAs; they are also usually NOT home inspectors or home improvement contractors (there are some exceptions to these as well and certain conflicts need to be avoided - blog subject in the future). 

Maryland agents/salespeople, associate brokers, and brokers must represent one of the parties in the real estate transaction - make sure YOU and THEY know who represents whom (via a written agreement - another future blog post).  No one can be a "secret" real estate agent.

So before you engage anyone to help you buy or sell real estate in Maryland, verify that they are licensed to do so!  Check on-line AND they are required to have their "pocket" license with them at all times!

If you have any questions about this information, please feel free to give me a call at 443-604-7721.

Cleo Pappas

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