How to Spot the Difference Between a Functionary Agent and a Fiduciary Realtor

I’m finding more and more Sellers and Buyers are interviewing several agents before choosing to work with one. I think that’s a great idea! In fact, I have developed 12 key questions to ask an agent. I’m happy to send that to you. Email me to get 12 Key Questions To Ask An Agent 

In the interview process, you will discover there are basically two different types of real estate agents. One provides services at a “Functionary” level and one provides services at a “Fiduciary” level. When I went to real estate school many years ago, we are all told we have a fiduciary responsibility to our client.

But, over the years, this has appeared to change because many companies are using a volume business model rather than a service model. This means they charge less and then must do more deals in order to keep their brokerages stable and profitable. Of course, that means the agents have to do less for each client because they have more of them.

Let me give you some examples:


Agent A (a Functionary agent) and Agent B (a Fiduciary agent) have information that the client needs to know. Agent A tells the information when it fits their schedule. Then they wait for the client to make a decision.

Agent B (which is me, if you haven’t guessed!) delivers the information in a timely manner and in a way that educates the client on all the nuances of how this information is going to impact that client. Client will make a decision based on my experience and all the information I have gathered.


In other words, Agent A tells the information, sells houses, and delivers information. Agent B (Me!) educates and guides the client, provides advice, and asks a lot of questions to make sure there is clarity before a decision is made and sells houses.

I’m not saying that Agent A doesn’t respond to the needs of their client. They do. But as a Fiduciary, I am always anticipating needs and looking into the future for potential pitfalls and negotiation wins. Many times my clients will tell me that I knew WHAT to do long before they even knew there was something TO do. Anticipating needs and potential pitfalls are some of the core values that I bring to my clients.

Another area where a Functionary and Fiduciary agent differ greatly is in the word “responsibility”. Look, I’m the mother of four sons. I know how the natural reaction is for them to say “He did it!” whenever something gets broken. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what can happen in a real estate transaction. You will know you are working with a Functionary agent when they blame others when something goes wrong.

The fact is, there are many, many things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction. There are many people involved in the process and communication can get confusing. If something goes off the rails with a deal I’m working on for my clients, I’m going to accept responsibility to fix it – even if it wasn’t my actions that caused the issue. That’s what a Fiduciary agent does…accept responsibilitymake things right…damage control…whatever you want to call it.

Buying and selling a home is quite possibly your biggest financial decision. You want to make sure you have someone on your side to educate and advise you. That they have a reputation of accepting responsibility and owning the results for actions taken. Someone who will not only meet your expectations but exceed them. Someone you want to call in the future and refer your friends.

You want a fiduciary agent, like me.

So, when interviewing agents how do you know if you are talking to a functionary agent or a Fiduciary agent?

Here are some comparisons:


Functionary Agent Fiduciary Agent
Tells you what they will do and have done Asks you lots of questions and gets to know your needs
If late for a meeting, make excuses and deflects responsibility If late for a meeting, accepts responsibility, calls to let you know they’re running late
Pushes you to make quick decisions Gives you time to ask all your questions, even anticipates some of your questions
Gives you lots of documents without any explanation Thoroughly explains any documents you sign


Wherever you are in the world, I can help save you time and money by interviewing agents local to your area. I know how to spot the Functionary and Fiduciary agents and get you the best one. Reach out to me wherever you live and you’ll find out how it feels to talk to a Fiduciary agent.


Contact Me Today