The South African property market functions primarily on a seller agency. Buyers are not usually represented and advised to the same level as sellers. Usually, the sellers mandate an estate agent to market their property. As per the estate agent’s code of conduct, the seller is the agent’s client and therefore the agent is obliged to:
- Act in utmost good faith towards the seller
- Act in the best interests of the seller
- Sell the property at the highest possible price
- Avoid situations with a conflict of interest
- Not retain any money or obtain a benefit because of the transaction, unless agreed to by the seller
- Avoid disclosing any confidential information divulged by the mandated client being the seller.
Provision in the code of the conduct states that the estate agent must act professionally, legally and ethically towards the buyer. This can be interpreted as showing the buyer the property, disclosing any known defects to the buyer and assisting the buyer with the offer to purchase.
So how are agents expected to perform this dual role without compromising their integrity to the selling party? Considering adhering to the estate agent’s code of conduct, the seller’s agent should not assist the buyer in obtaining the property at a lower price.