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  • Writer's pictureThe Nitan Soni Group

OLD CAR and the Difference Between Being a Real Estate Client and Customer

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

Did you know that as a Sussex County Delaware real estate agent, I owe you a statutory duty as soon as I say hello over the phone or respond to an email? Much like a doctor or lawyer, I immediately owe you the statutory duty of confidentiality.

From the moment of first communication, you are officially a customer, even if we don’t go beyond that first call. According to Delaware law, I must keep all information you disclose to me confidential unless I have your personal consent to disclose information to others.

However, confidentiality is the only duty I owe to costumers.

Becoming a Real Estate Client

Luckily for you, you become a client at whatever happens first – the beginning of our first scheduled appointment, when I begin performing any real estate activities for you, at your first property showing, or when an offer is made.

It doesn’t matter if you’re purchasing a house for sale in Rehoboth Beach or listing your home for sale in Lewes. I owe you the full slate of Delaware statutory duties.

OLD CAR – Delaware Statuary Duties

It may not be the most pleasant acronym, but it sure is handy and easy to remember. And who doesn’t love a classic car?

OLD CAR breaks down (I couldn’t resist) into obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, accountability and reasonable skill and care. Let’s talk about each of these individually.


As your real estate agent, I must obey your directives, as long as they don’t violate any laws or code of ethics established by my brokerage, Coldwell Banker Resort Realty. While I hope you’re partnering with me for my advice and opinions, you ultimately have the final say, and your wish is my command.


You are my client, and I always act in your best interests, not mine. At the negotiating table, I’m there for you and you alone. This may include me offering advice you don’t want to hear, but as your agent, I must act in what will be most beneficial to you.

For example, let’s say we don’t see eye-to-eye on a listing price for your home or an initial offer to buy. I owe it to you to present my case. However, you can overrule me with the statutory duty of obedience.


I must disclose any material facts that may benefit you in a negotiation. A material fact is one that, if known to you, might cause you to make a different decision on a property. It can be almost anything about a home, such as a defect, buried septic tank, repair issues and HOA restrictions.

Legal discussions over what is a material fact have even involved supposed hauntings. The “Ghostbusters” ruling near Sleepy Hollow, New York was won on appeal in 1991, allowing the plaintive to rescind the contract as, apparently, only the defendants weren’t afraid of no ghost.


As discussed earlier, both customers and clients are owed confidentiality. This is also the only statutory duty that never expires. I’ve gotta take it to the grave.


You may also hear of this as accounting, as it pertains mainly to documents and funds.

As your agent, I must account for any funds entrusted to me, and I cannot, under any circumstances, commingle or combine your funds with any other funds, such as my personal or business funds. I must also provide accurate reporting of the whereabouts of all documents and funds in the real estate transaction.

The duty of accounting can also extend past the closing. It only terminates when all moneys and property has been given or returned to the appropriate party.

Reasonable Skill and Care

Simply put, I must work to the best of my ability on your behalf and respond to you as quickly as possible. I’m expected to advise on multiple aspects of your real estate transaction, including price, repairs, inspections, inclusions and exclusions, and negotiations.

I’ll help you prepare and examine offers, and give advice on any counter offers and contingencies. I also cannot sit on any information. I must diligently accept and deliver all offers and counter-offers.


Delaware is a friendly state, and we want to keep it that way. Therefore, Delaware also mandates that all agents must cooperate with each other in real estate transactions, unless this cooperation is exceeded by loyalty.

Any Questions?

Feel free to reach out to me. As a Rehoboth Beach realtor, I’ve got you covered in Sussex County, from Route 16 all the way down to the state line.

Even if you’re just in the exploratory stage of selling or buying a home, I’m happy to offer my advice and services. And, of course, my confidentiality.

Michael Getzlaff

The Nitan Soni Group


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