Client vs. Customer: What duties are owed to an open house visitor?
We have all faced this situation: a couple comes into our open house and begins to ask questions about the property and real estate in general. We politely answer their questions and gather information. But as agents, what duties do we owe someone that comes into our open houses?
To answer this, we must establish whether this couple in our open house is a client or merely a customer. A client is someone with whom we have formed an agency relationship with, either orally or through a written document. To this client, we owe the duties of skill, care, diligence, loyalty, obedience, confidentiality, accounting, and full disclosure.
As agents, we also owe duties to customers. To these customers, we owe the duties of honesty, fairness, reasonable care and skill, and disclosure. To these open house visitors, be vigilant to disclose any agency relationship you have with the seller and what that means to them. Also, be wary of any actions that might lead the open house visitor to believe you represent them through an implied agency agreement. Remember to always treat everyone with honesty and fairness.