My brother is a real-estate salesperson. If he helps me sell my home at no charge, does he still have to follow all the rules for real-estate professionals? Isn’t it just a private service if he’s helping me as a family member?

If you have a trusted friend or family member who is a broker or salesperson, working with them can be a good option when you want to sell your home. But, just as you can’t get a “private surgery” or “private legal advice” that aren’t subject to rules of professional conduct, there is no such thing as a private real-estate service.

While he is your brother, it doesn’t change the fact he is a registered real-estate professional, which means he has to follow the rules and regulations the Ontario government has created to protect consumers.

One of the most important provisions requires brokers and salespeople to provide conscientious and competent service to the buyers and sellers they represent. In addition, they have to treat everyone they deal with in the course of a real-estate trade fairly, honestly and with integrity.

There are also some additional wrinkles you and your brother have to keep in mind.
First, your brother must provide all potential buyers with written disclosure of his relationship to you. He has to do this at the earliest practical opportunity, and before they make an offer.

Second, your brother can only trade in real estate on behalf of the brokerage that employs him. That means he has to provide his brokerage with copies of all documents related to the transaction.

Third, your brother’s brokerage may have policies on commissions. That means your brother may need to get approval from his brokerage if he plans to waive the commission the brokerage would normally charge for the services his brokerage provides. Also, you may have to pay commission to the buyer’s brokerage, if the buyer is represented by one.

Finally, it’s important you two sit down and discuss the services your brother will provide. Will he organize showings, or list the home through These are services real-estate professionals often provide, so find out if he can offer them to you.

Have a thorough conversation, go through the details of the listing agreement, and get everything in writing. If there is something in the agreement you don’t understand, have him explain it to you until you are satisfied.

Using a trusted relative to sell your home can be a good approach, but it’s important to sort out expectations ahead of time. With everyone on the same page, you’re much more likely to have a positive experience.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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