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Selling Land

Remembering Your Fiduciary Duty

July 3, 2018

In the state of South Carolina, agents working for a Buyer Client or a Seller Client have specific duties they owe to their client. These duties include obedience, accounting, confidentiality, loyalty and disclosure, among others. These duties are more commonly known as fiduciary duties and must be acknowledged and executed first, foremost and entirely throughout the Client and Agent relationship.

Agents are entitled to their cut of a sale in the event that they are able to close the deal. This, however, cannot, and should not, come before the duties owed to the Client.

A situation that comes up often, unfortunately, involves a customer coming to a Selling Agent and negotiating a deal. The Selling Agent has already communicated that his or her duties and responsibilities are owed to the Seller. Then, after negotiating the contract, the Selling Agent – under the impression the customer is representing themselves – gets hit with an, “Okay, I’ll have my agent call you.”

After all the work the Selling Agent has put in to pull a deal for the Seller, another agent is able to swoop in and take half of the commission. If the Seller’s Agent is acting responsibly, they just received a terrible hand, as they must do everything in the Seller’s best interest above their own. The Agent has already done the work… and is getting their pay cut. Luckily, the Buyer Agent can coordinate all closing items (with the watchful eye of the Seller’s Agent for the Seller’s Interest) and earn their keep, essentially in arrears.

Unfortunately, one of the first questions I often get asked is, “Do you offer co-brokerage or split commissions with cooperating agents?” This begs the question that I struggle to not ask the vast majority of agents that call me: “For whom are you working? Yourself? Or your client to whom you legally OWE duties?”

Yes, commissions should be discussed, but not before you even know the address of the site in which your client has an interest.


Customers/Clients: CHOOSE WISELY.

About the Author
Nicholas Ardis is a Land Professional for National Land Realty based out of our Columbia, SC office. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a double-major in both Finance and Global Supply Chain/Operations Management. Nicholas currently lives in Columbia, SC near the USC campus. He spends most of his time outdoors - hunting, fishing, and playing sports with friends. Nicholas is a people person, loves being on or near the water, and is an avid South Carolina fan. View Nicholas's Listings and Reviews on