Benefits of using a real estate pro

Here are some important points made at a WinnipegREALTORS® presentation during the February 23 home buyer seminar organized and presented  by New Journey Housing advisor Karen Giesbrecht.
Why use a REALTOR®
You’re trusting a REALTOR® with your most valuable possession or investment, your home. REALTORS® take this responsibility very seriously. Here’s what we promise you:
1. Your REALTOR® is a trained professional. REALTORS® take extensive pre-licensing courses in order to obtain credentials for practicing in real estate.
2. Your REALTOR® is continuously trained. REALTORS® keep pace with the times by taking continuing education courses to upgrade their knowledge on a broad range of real estate related issues in order to be able to continue to provide consumers with current advice.
3. Your REALTOR® does everything by the book. A REALTOR® must be registered under provincial laws that govern exactly how real estate can and cannot be traded. These regulations are your legal guarantee of professional behaviour. 
4. Your REALTOR® is an ethical businessperson. REALTORS® must adhere to the extensive code of ethics of the Canadian Real Estate Association. Several provinces have additional codes of ethics governing real estate professionals. Your interests must always be put first. 
5. Opportunity for recourse. Should you have concerns about the professional behavior of a REALTOR®, provincial regulators and your local real estate board or association take these matters very seriously and work quickly to resolve any issues.
6. Your REALTOR® has access to a local board’s MLS® system. A board’s MLS® system is the single most powerful tool for buying and selling a home. Your REALTOR® can provide you with exclusive features of the board’s MLS® system, such as immediate notification when new properties are listed. You don't have to wait for it to be posted on a website.
Find a REALTOR® who is right for you:
REALTORS® aren’t just people who help find you a home. They’re an invaluable resource for knowledge, contacts and advice that help turn buying a piece of property into a home. Here we explain what you can expect when you enlist the help of a REALTOR®.
There are a number of different kinds of relationships that you can develop with your REALTOR®. However, they all fall primarily under two categories: agency relationships and non-agency relationships.
• Single agency — An agency relationship is one where the REALTOR® represents you exclusively. In that respect, the REALTOR®’s primary obligation is to you, and they are required to act only in your best interests. Anything you tell your REALTOR® agent is strictly confidential, and the REALTOR® has an obligation to disclose to you any information he or she has that is related to the transaction.
• Dual agency — Dual agency refers to the situation where the REALTOR® represents both the buyer and the seller as agent at the same time. In this case, both parties are required to sign a dual agency contract setting out the obligations of the REALTOR® to both parties, and obtaining the consent of the parties to this type of representation.
• Non-agency — It is possible for a REALTOR® to work with you without being your agent. In this case, the REALTOR® can give you information, but cannot provide you with advice. There is a big difference between these two concepts. Nothing you say to a “non-agent” is confidential, so you have to be careful what you confide. As a buyer you will likely want your REALTOR® to act as your agent, but that decision is up to you.
Remember that the REALTOR® code requires REALTORS® to disclose the nature of the relationship they have with you, and the duties and obligations associated with that relationship. Make sure you have this discussion with your REALTOR®.
In Manitoba, there is a brochure put out by the Manitoba Real Estate Association entitled: Working With a Real Estate Salesperson. It must be provided to a buyer to read, review and sign. It is an acknowledgement that the buyer is aware of how the REALTOR® will represent them in an upcoming purchase. Besides covering off agency disclosure, it also specifies a salesperson’s duties and obligations. 
Five key duties singled out are:
• Loyalty to serve your best interests ahead of anyone else’s, including their own, and at all times to disclose all known facts and information which may influence your decision.
• Obedience to follow all of your lawful instructions.
• Discretion to keep confidential your private circumstances, motivations and confidences that you shared with the salesperson
• Competence to exercise reasonable care and skill in performing all assigned duties.
• Accounting of all the money, deposits or other property entrusted to them.
Next week’s column will cover the remainder of the REALTORS® role in helping someone buy a home, as well as the lawyer’s involvement in making sure all legal requirements  and obligations of a real estate transaction have been met and executed properly.