Traverse City Record-Eagle


Don’t be a Dolt – Realtor Agency in Michigan

Team Mike, Ask The RealtorsHello Record-Eagle readers,

For most of us, our real estate is the most valuable asset we own (by far).  As an Ask the Realtor reader, you obviously care about your assets keenly, and you don’t want to be known as a dolt for working at a major disadvantage.

The most misunderstood aspect of a real estate transaction in the State of Michigan is fundamental to your success or failure when buying or selling property.  If you are even considering buying or selling, you must understand how real estate Agency operates — who is representing whom and what your agent’s responsibilities are — otherwise you will be working at a major disadvantage.

Real estate Agency in the State of Michigan is a legally defined relationship that seeks to protect the consumer, and establish specifically “who” and “what” a real estate agent is responsible for.  In many ways, similar to an attorney-client or doctor-patient relationship, a real estate agent’s fiduciary responsibility to their clients goes well beyond “friendly,” “familial,” “professional,” or “customer” relations in an attempt to provide the greatest benefit and protection to people in the marketplace.

In Michigan, a licensed real estate agent’s fiduciary responsibility to their clients mandates dutycounselrepresentation, and confidentiality as the fundamental basis of the Agent-Client relationship, but unfortunately most people don’t have a clue about what they are or how they work.

Realtors, attorneys, and doctors all share some fundamental principles with their clients/patients:

  • The client’s interests come first.
  • All other parties’ interests are secondary to that of the client or patient.
  • All confidential information shared with the professional must always remain confidential.
  • The professional must share information that is in their client’s best interests, and must do so in a timely fashion.

Whether governed by the Hippocratic Oath or the Code of Ethics of a Board of Realtors or a law Bar, all other professional principles and procedures fall under the aegis of the supremacy of their client’s interests. Do not underestimate this principle.  This is the real estate agent’s whole “reason for being” — the entire idea of professional assistance boiled down to its simplest part.

Now here’s the key: In order to receive all of the benefits of a real estate agent’s assistance and expertise, you need to hire them.

Yes, you can try to sell your largest asset by yourself, but do not play around with your property’s equity. This is the easiest way for your neighbors and friends to slide you over into the “dolt” category.  There are other ways, naturally, but this is one of the easiest.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How many properties or businesses have you bought or sold in your adult lifetime?  Dozens?  Hundreds?  A thousand?
  2. What type of property ownership do you have: Fee Simple, Joint Tenancy, Tenancy in Common, Tenancy in the Entirety? Can you convey a Warranty Deed?
  3. What encumbrances are there on your ownership? Are there remedies?
  4. What type of marketing regimen do you have in place? Can you possibly market your property as effectively, and to as many parties, as a full-time expert? How much money are you planning to spend?
  5. How much time (in hours, specifically) do you intend to spend trying to:
    • Squeeze every last dime of equity out of your most valuable asset?
    • Avoiding pitfalls and ensuring you have fulfilled your legal responsibilities?
    • Coordinating?
    • Negotiating?
  6. How many buyers are you actively working with right now? How much interaction do you have with the top producing real estate professionals in your area?
  7. How will you establish the actual market value of your property or business? (Do not begin your answer here with: “I want …” or “My neighbor is asking …”)

This is much more complicated than a garage sale, and far more important. Yes, there is a cost associated with hiring a Realtor to help you market and sell your real estate, but that experienced expert will help you get the absolute maximum return on your most valuable asset, while simultaneously helping to ensure your success.

I know you are not a dolt or you wouldn’t have read this far down the blog, but face it, no one is an expert at their own profession, prepares their own taxes, represents themselves in a court of law, home schools their own children, balances and installs their own new tires, operates on themselves, officiates at their daughter’s wedding, and sells their own property successfully.

When you list a piece of property for sale, you are entering into a listing contract with your agent and brokerage who then undertake the fiduciary responsibility to help you meet all of your legal obligations, help you establish ownership and your right to sell your property, market and sell that property for as much as humanly possible, in the shortest possible time frame, with as few difficulties as can be managed, to negotiate on your behalf, and assist you until you have successfully reached your goal.

Read: SOLD!

The Northern Great Lakes Realtors (NGLR) [formerly Traverse Area Association of Realtors (TAAR)] locally coordinates a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) where the detailed information for all residential and commercial properties and businesses that are for sale are organized and congregated, as well as helping the real estate professionals maintain the highest possible care for, and service to, their clients.

The advantages of using a Realtor when purchasing or selling property are multiple and significant. Make sure you understand Agency, and what your Realtor can do for you, so you can make the most of these advantages.

Contact me if you would like to know what your real estate is worth in today’s market, or for help preparing, listing and selling your property for its absolute maximum.

As always, leave your comments or questions below so that I can respond.  If you seek more privacy, email me directly at:

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope you

Stay warm!!



Mike Gaines, Licensed real estate agent
Re/Max Bayshore Properties

m: (231) 883-7441
o: (231) 941-4500
f: (231) 941-4595

blog: Ask the Realtor on the Traverse City Record-Eagle website

Office address:
500 S Union St.
Traverse City, MI 49684

  • Bobdisqus

    Mike I would suggest that if agents/brokers earned their fees we would see a wider range in the fee structures. Really good ones would be able to get significantly higher fees as their services would be worth it. To me it looks like a game rigged in favor of the house. We may need you like we need our banker and you both may earn your pound of flesh, but we still feel the pain with each ounce extracted.

    • Mike Gaines

      Bob, Thanks for commenting.

      I didn’t use a banker-account holder analogy as similar because I don’t see many similarities. If you don’t want to keep your money in a bank, keep it under your mattress, etc. If you are trying to sell your most valuable asset, and seek the maximum for it, I would strongly counsel you to use a trusted professional, and that the commission you pay is more than worth the benefits and protection you receive vs. ‘winging it’ in an attempt to save a little.

      By winging it, someone trying to accomplish the sale of their most valuable asset may work themselves into the ‘dolt’ category by cutting off their nose to spite their face, ie: ‘saving’ on the real estate commission but ultimately gleaning far less for their most valuable asset, exposing themselves to unknown & potentially dangerous liabilities, and personally spending all of the time and effort instead of paying a professional for assistance.

      I am also suggesting that there are legally defined responsibilities that a licensed real estate agent has to his or her clients, but most of those clients (or prospective clients) don’t have hardly a clue as to what those responsibilities actually are. Hence the notion that they’re being ‘gouged’ or ‘taken’ for a ‘pound of flesh,’ as you elegantly put it.

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