If you have a trusted friend or family member who is a broker or salesperson, working with them can be a good option when you want to buy or sell a home. But, just as you can’t get a “private surgery” or “private legal advice” that aren’t subject to rules of professional conduct, there is no such thing as a private real estate service.

If, for example, you hire your brother, it doesn’t change the fact that he is a registered real estate professional. This means that he has to follow the rules and regulations that the Ontario government created to protect consumers.

One of the most important provisions requires brokers and salespeople to provide conscientious and competent service to the buyers and sellers they represent. In addition, they have to treat everyone they deal with in the course of a real estate trade fairly, honestly and with integrity.

If you are considering hiring a family member or friend, here are some things to keep in mind:

Look them up
Search their name on RECO’s website. This will allow you to check their registration status and whether they have ever had disciplinary actions against them.

Whether you are buying or selling a home, they will have to disclose their personal relationship to you in writing to the other parties to a trade. They have to do this at the earliest practical opportunity, and before any offers are made.

Record keeping
Remember that your family member or friend can only trade in real estate on behalf of the brokerage that employs them. That means they have to provide their brokerage with copies of all documents related to the transaction.

Your family member or friend’s brokerage may have policies on commissions. That means they may need to get approval from their brokerage if they plan to waive or reduce the commission the brokerage would normally charge for their services. And, keep in mind that if you’re selling your home, you may have to pay commission to the buyer’s brokerage.

As you would with any real estate salesperson, it’s important you sit down and discuss the services that they will provide. Will they organize showings or list the home through, for example? These are services that real estate professionals often provide, so find out if they can offer them to you.

And remember, before you sign anything (including a buyer representation agreement or listing agreement), ensure you first fully understand and agree to everything in the document.

Using a trusted relative or friend to buy or sell a home can be a good approach, but it’s important to sort out expectations ahead of time. With everyone on the same page, you’re much more likely to have a positive experience.

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