The Pennsylvania “Agency Disclosure” law was adopted by the State Real Estate Commission 1/7/00, amended 3/29/02, and is listed at 49 PA Code, subsection 35.336. The purpose of the law is to provide consumers, up front and in writing, with an understanding of whom real estate agents represent and thus an understanding of the service options that apply. All Pennsylvania licensed real estate agents are required to provide a disclosure entitled, “Consumer Notice,” to consumers “at the first contact where a substantive discussion about real estate occurs.”
If the disclosure cannot be physically provided when this occurs, then the agent must read the “Oral Disclosure” to the consumer.
Oral Disclosure: “The Real Estate Law requires that I provide you with a written Consumer Notice that describes the various business relationship choices that you may have with the real estate licensee. Since we are discussing real estate without you having the benefit of the Consumer Notice, I have the duty to advise you that any information that you give me at this time is not considered to be confidential unless and until you and I enter into a business relationship. At our first meeting, I will provide you with a consumer notice which explains those business relationships and my responding duties.”
By signing the Consumer Notice, you are simply acknowledging that the disclosure has been provided to you; it does not commit you to anything. You will commit to a particular real estate agent, and their required duties, when you sign a listing contract (if you are a seller) or a business relationship contract (if you are a buyer). The advantages of the law for consumers is that the “Consumer Notice” provides for a better, clearer understanding of whom the agents work for in a transaction, details the agent’s role and responsibilities, and provides the requirement that certain information appear in writing in seller & buyer contracts.
Whether or not you have signed the Consumer Notice, per the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act, all Pennsylvania licensed real estate agents owe all consumers the following duties:
- to exercise reasonable professional skill and care which meets practice standards
- to deal honestly and in good faith
- to present all written offers, written notices and other written communications to and from parties in a timely manner
- to ensure all parties have reviewed the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement prior to signing the sales contract
- to account in a timely manner for all money and property received from or on behalf of any consumer
- to provide the Consumer Notice
- to timely disclose to the consumer any conflicts of interest
- to advise the consumer to seek expert advice on matters relating to the transaction that are beyond the scope of the agent’s expertise
- to ensure that all services to be provided to the consumer are provided in a reasonable, professional and competent manner
- to advise the consumer regarding the status of the transaction
- to advise the consumer of tasks that must be completed to satisfy an agreement or condition for settlement, provide assistance with document preparation and advise the consumer regarding compliance with laws pertaining to real estate transactions
- to present all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner unless a party has directed the agent otherwise in writing
- to provide disclosure to the consumer regarding any financial interest, including, but not limited to, a referral fee or commission, which a licensee has in any services to be provided to the consumer by any other person, including, but not limited to, financial services, title transfer and preparation services, insurance, construction, and/or repair services. The agent will also provide disclosure regarding any financial interest which an affiliated licensee may have in any services to be provided to the consumer by any other person. The disclosures required will be made at the time the agent first recommends that the consumer purchase a service in which the agent or an affiliated licensee has a financial interest or when the agent first learns that the consumer will be purchasing a service in which the agent or an affiliated licensee has a financial interest.