Working with a Realtor: Client vs Customer

18 May 2016

Every time you meet an agent today you have to sign a Working with a Realtor brochure, and then you have to choose whether you want to receive Customer or Client service. Many Buyers choose Customer Service. They want to be a free agent with no commitment to any one Realtor.

So what’s the problem?

Client and Customer Definitions


"A 'client' relationship creates the highest form of obligation for a REALTOR® to a consumer. The brokerage must protect the interests of the client and do what is best for the client. A brokerage must strive for the benefit of the client and must not disclose a client's confidential information to others. The brokerage must also make reasonable efforts to determine any material facts relating to the transaction and would be of interest to the client and must inform the client of those facts."


A buyer or seller may not wish to be under contract as a client with the brokerage but would rather be treated as a customer. A REALTOR® is obligated to treat every person in a real estate transaction with honesty, fairness, and integrity, but unlike a client, provides a customer with a restricted level of service. Services provided to a customer may include showing the property or properties, drafting the offer, presenting the offer, ect.

 When you choose customer service you have to find properties on your own and when you find them the Realtor only has to present the facts. They can’t offer opinions on what to pay for, whether it’s a good or bad choice, or what to look out for. You are left to decide based only on the listing information. In this market, with a shortage of listings, what would a Realtor do when they come across a great property? Show it to their clients first? They have to. However, with a customer they don’t have to show it to them at all. Or maybe they show it only after all their clients pass on it. It’s something like getting the leftovers. When buying a property what would you like, first choice or the leftovers?

That’s the difference between Customer and Client Service.