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The Department Of Commerce Focuses on Homeownership, Offers Guidance in Selecting a Real Estate Agent

June 27, 2013


For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN – To highlight National Homeownership Month, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is emphasizing the importance of consumer education in helping Minnesotans achieve affordable homeownership.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales are continuing to improve and the median sales price increased by double digits from the previous year. Many potential buyers and sellers might be encouraged to seize the opportunity of an improving market and put their homes on the market or start looking to purchase a home.

“National Homeownership Month is a good time to remind home buyers and sellers to understand what to look for when selecting a real estate agent,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Use the Department of Commerce website to check if your real estate agent or broker is properly licensed with the State of Minnesota.”

During the first substantive meeting with a prospective client, agents must provide consumers with an “agency disclosure” form. This is intended to provide a description of available options for agency and nonagency relationships and a description of the role of a licensee under each option.

The Department has recently taken enforcement actions against real estate agents/brokers not abiding by their professional responsibilities as proscribed by Minnesota law. The Department investigation found real estate salespersons that provided misleading advertisements to the general public by not disclosing the broker they are working for or identifying the advertisement as from a real estate licensee.

In one enforcement action, the Department found that an agent failed to disclose his/her own financial and legal interest in the property. This type of case represents a conflict of interest and buyers and sellers need to be assured that their agent is acting in their best interest when negotiating a sale price on behalf of their client.

To ensure that sellers and buyers select the right broker/agent for them, the Department has identified “red flags” that may assist in determining if a real estate agent is not legitimate or acting in their best interest, in an honest, and transparent way.

These tips are not intended to provide legal advice in drafting real estate related documents or provide detailed descriptions of the nature of relationships that may be created between agents and buyers and sellers.

Red Flags

The Commerce Department urges prospective homebuyers and sellers to make sure your agent is licensed by checking on the Department’s website. The Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Line can be reached by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602 in Greater Minnesota.