The Real Reason You Should Sign A Buyer Representation Agreement

By
Real Estate Sales Representative with RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage

 

Buyer Representation

If you have spoken to a Realtor about buying a home, you should be familiar with the Buyer Representation Agreement. Like any contract, the Buyer Representation Agreement outlines commitments that your agent promises to make in exchange for commitments you promise to make. Under this Agreement, agents are committed to provide you with the following duties: LOYALTY, OBEDIENCE, DISCLOSURE, CONFIDENTIALITY, REASONABLE CARE AND DILIGENCE, and ACCOUNTING. In exchange, buyers commit to ensuring the agent is paid for services rendered (Note that in most cases, the payment is usually paid by the seller). Legally, realtors are obligated to discuss buyer agency with potential clients at the earliest opportunity.

When I first learned about Buyer Representation Agreements I wasn’t convinced they were really in the best interest of buyers. You can argue that realtors like Buyer Representation Agreements as they bind buyers to them and ensure they get paid regardless of the service they provide. I agree to a certain extent but have quickly determined that as a professional realtor, establishing a Buyer/Agent relationship is the only way I will do business. Here’s why…

As a realtor I meet a lot of people who are looking for information on the Oakville housing market. I receive several emails and phone calls and am happy to spend time discussing real estate issues with potential clients (really I am) but like everything else there is a limit to the amount of hours in my day. Despite what many people want to believe, real estate is much more than setting up appointments and opening up doors. I say this with the utmost honesty as someone who knows the pressures and stress of a corporate job. There is no way I would have chosen to switch careers if I thought the advice of a realtor could just as easily be learned through an MLS or Google search. No one understands the nuances of the local market, future development plans for an area, the art of negotiation, school issues and make-up of specific neighbourhoods like an intelligent, diligent local realtor.

I spend hours upon hours working for my clients and several more keeping up to date with current real estate and housing information. My first priority is to my clients and in order to provide a level of service that I am proud of, I limit my interactions to clients first and prospective clients second. To be brutally honest, I just don’t have time to dedicate the kind of service buyers deserve (sometimes for months at a time) without any kind of commitment of loyalty from them. For me, the Buyer’s Representation Agreement solidifies my commitment of excellence and priority status to you in exchange for your commitment of loyalty to me.

When explained this way, I find that most people have no issues signing the agreement, leading to a relationship built on trust and service. It is the best way I know how to do business. I question buyers who believe that they will somehow get better service or a better deal without using a committed Buyer’s agent. I simply do not understand how they think they will get first class service and advice without any kind of commitment (on either end). Like most things in life, you get out what you put in. If you believe realtors are transactional type people who simply book appointments and unlock doors then you can easily find one that will be willing to provide you with minimal service for minimal commitment. If you expect more out of your realtor, then take your time, find a realtor you trust, have them commit to you, and be willing to commit to them. If you do so, you will be impressed by the advice and expertise you gain from the experience.

Questions or comments? Visit www.lindsaywalls.com for additional information on the Oakville real estate market.  Feel free to comment below, email me at lindsay@remaxaboutowne.com or call me at 905.338.9000.

Regards,

Lindsay

Comments (53)

Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time
Lindsay, I'm a big fan of the BBA. Not sure why anyone would choose to work without one. My experience has been tha buyers have no issue at all with signing a BBA. The BBA is not about bindind the buyer. It's really about out lining the transaction. Just lie a listing agreement.
Nov 28, 2009 08:51 AM
Steve Loynd
Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., - Lincoln, NH
800-926-5653, White Mountains NH

Lindsay, Very thorough and well presented argument for buyer representation, nice post and a well deserved featured post congrats.

Nov 28, 2009 09:19 AM
Melissa Brown
Helen Adams Realty - Charlotte, NC
Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale

Lindsay,

I have done this both ways, but I think I may be re-thinking this.  I have worked with buyers without a BBA, and I haven't been burned yet.  But I can see how others have compared this to a listing agreement.  We wouldn't list a home without this, would we?

I think you gave a great explanation, and I will use some of your points in my explanation  Thanks!

Nov 28, 2009 09:22 AM
Daniel J. Hunter
REALTOR® - New Port Richey, FL

I am going to ask our broker why we, and most people I know locally, why we do not work with BBA's

Frank Castaldini (Coldwell Banker) when was the last time you searched county records to see if a past customer did not buy from/with another agent?

I learned of one this year by doing that.  They went directly to the LA on a $300k house.  I was discouraged from filling a dispute as we are in a small, close knit community and the blow-back would be too great.  

Nov 28, 2009 10:06 AM
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

Lindsay, I do not believe anyone who has been in this business for any time at all, that says they have not lost a client to another agent when they have served the client well.  If someone can honestly say that than I am willing to bet that they do not sell many houses. 

I think that the agents who say that their clients wouldn't sign the forms, have never tried.  I have not sold a house to a buyer without a buyer agency agreement in over 3 years.  In that 3 years I have never had a client refuse to sign one. 

It is simple, I work hard for my clients and in return for my hard work I expect to be paid.  That is exactly how I explain it to my clients.  No  beating around the bush.  My doctor and my lawyer sure as hell expect to be paid for their services so why shouldn't I?

To the agents above who don't think it is a good thing for the client......do you have listing agreements?  If so, why?  I don't see how a listing agreement serves a sellers interest any differently than a buyer agency agreement does.  I do tire of agents pushing their own insecurities on other agents. 

Well written post.  Thank you.

Nov 28, 2009 10:37 AM
Anonymous
Penny Andrews

Great comments! I always try to get a BBA.  My twist is, I think the Buyer benefits by getting an agent who will put him first.  Would you put someone who signs a BBA ahead of someone who refused to?  Of course you would, it's a commitment issue.  I ask the Buyers if they want to be put first and they always say YES.  Everyone likes to receive great service; they just need to understand how to earn that great service.  It's from commitment. 

Nov 28, 2009 11:23 AM
#39
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Agent Retired

Lindsay:  Very well done explanation.

Nov 28, 2009 11:33 AM
Patricia Aulson
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate - Exeter, NH
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Good post, thanks for getting it out there.

Patricia

Nov 28, 2009 11:33 AM
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

You did a great job explaining why we need to get Buyers' Agency Agreement signed.  I rarely do, however.  (Thankfully, I have been lucky and know it).  We've all been burned before and several of my friends have been burned over the years with signed agency agreements.  When they checked into suing, the cost of doing so wasn't worth it to them in the long run. 

Nov 28, 2009 11:43 AM
Anonymous
Buyer suspicious of contracts

If I buy through a realtor in the area I am looking in it will be through fred who has been working with me. But if I find something I want on my own why does fred deserve any payment? He did not find it, he did not show me the place, he did not go through the paperwork. I found the sign in the yard and the homeowner and I agreed on a price and terms. Fred only found me the completely wrong things that did not fit what I wanted.

If I asked a car dealer to look for a specific kind of car and he never found it would he expect me to pay him when I found that exact car in someone's yard on my own? I think not. If he finds me the car I would pay him for the results. If I find the car myself why should I pay the car dealer who never found the car I desired?

If a car dealer who never finds me that car should not expect to be paid when I find it on my own ( a for sale by owner vehicle) why should a realtor expect anything different?

The real problem here is the clause that says the buyer has to pay extra if the seller does not pay enough for the agents taste. 

If I find something fred can even insist I pay him more because the listing agent does not offer enough. Aren't we ALWAYS told the seller pays the realtor's fees? How does this protect or help the buyer? 

I can think of no other sales contract that would say if you buy from anybody else you still owe me a commission on that purchase, can you?

In this country we pay people for results. In the above cases each one did an unsuccessful search that gave me nothing. Neither one should expect any payment for a failed search should they? 

Nov 28, 2009 02:59 PM
#43
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Lindsay,

 

I think this is one of the best explanations regarding buyer representation agreements that I have heard.

And, though I understand some of the concerns that "Buyer" above raises, I don't want to hijack your post.

Nov 28, 2009 03:36 PM
Tim and Pam Cash
Crye-Leike (Sango) - Clarksville, TN
Real Estate Professionals - Clarksville TN

Lindsay, what a great post - very well written explanation for prospective buyers and a great learning tool for Realtors.

Nov 28, 2009 10:45 PM
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Lindsay:

There is an interesting comment above from a home buyer who is "suspicious of contracts."

I think this is good feedback.  A buyer is only going to sign a buyer agency agreement if he or she is convinced that they will be getting a benefit from doing so. They need to know that an agent has a good track record with buyers, and, also the contract must be simple and not frightening to the consumer. 

It sounds as though this buyer had the perception that they would be getting no benefit from signing a buyer broker agreement.  They needed to have a better explanation from their agent on how an agreement would help them in their home search and purchase. 

'Very nice post on buyer agency agreements.

 

 

Nov 29, 2009 12:22 AM
Anonymous
Camilla Harris

Excellent explanation of Buyer/Broker Rep Agreeement and a fantastic post.

Nov 29, 2009 01:38 PM
#47
Anonymous
Buyer looking for information

In case the agent fails to provide a successful deal, can I move out of the agreement without paying a penalty or any commission to the agent?

Nov 29, 2009 02:28 PM
#48
Jenny Kotulak
RE/MAX Real Estate Centre Inc., Brokerage - Oakville, ON
Broker - Oakville Ontario Real Estate

Well written post Lindsay and a big congratulations on the feature. 

Good job.

Nov 29, 2009 04:08 PM
Gary Swanson
Century 21 Harris & Taylor - Grants Pass, OR

Great blog Lindsay.  I think they are good for buyers and agents.  I think it is a tool that lets the buyers be more honest and forthright with an agent they know is working for them.

Nov 29, 2009 04:21 PM
Lindsay Walls
RE/MAX Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage - Oakville, ON
Oakville Ontario Realtor

Thanks to all for your comments.  I am absolutely thrilled with the overwhelming response.  I am passionate about the subject but had no idea you would all be as well!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's take on Buyer Agency Agreements.


I have two comments I specifically want to address.  The first is from "Buyer Suspicious of Contracts".  First off, thanks for taking the time to express your opinion.  One of the great things about real estate is that you as a buyer have literally thousands of agents to pick from and not all agents are going to be right for you. 

As I read your post, I was struck by how transactional you view the process of buying a home.  Perhaps this is where we differ in opinions.  I believe my true value is my ability to educate a buyer on a market, not just on a specific home.  My job is to educate my clients on the town they are looking to buy in as well as the specific neighbourhoods they are most interested in.  I discuss local issues, future development plans, traffic and commuting details, specific neighbourhood make-ups, economic issues, past, present and expected future real estate values, etc with all my buyers in addition to providing information on the homes that are under consideration.  While finding specific homes is an important responsibility of my job, helping buyers understand the types of homes that are out there is equally important.  Many times, I find that buyers need to see homes that they don't like, before they recognize a home they do like. 

If I am interpreting you correctly, you believe that realtors should not be paid for a home they personally did not find for the buyer.  To this, I have two comments.  First is that a realtor plays a big part in helping a buyer determine fair market value of the home that a buyer found themselves.  They also provide details on the neighbourhood and point out details of the home that will affect resale value as well as work through the negotiation and help you avoid potential pitfalls in the deal.  Second and most importantly, if your realtor has taken the time to educate you on the area, development plans, issues of the day, etc and has shown you other properties that have helped educate you on what you really want in a home than your realtor has already provided you with a highly valuable service. They have helped you reach a point where you are comfortable recognizing the gem of a home before you.

I agree that it is unfair to take money for a service that has not been rendered but I think it's equally unfair to not pay someone for their services when they have taken the time to educate you.  I strongly believe that the Buyers Representation Agreement requires realtors to raise the bar in the level of service they provide and that my clients benefit from the superior service they receive under contract. I agree that we should pay people for results but buying a home is a process with many steps.  The person who makes the money should not necessarly be the one who "found" the final house, rather the person who took the time to educate the buyer and get them to the point where the are ready to buy.  Because I believe in what I do, I demand getting paid for the education I give.  As a buyer, you get to choose who you believe will give you the best education.  I know it's not an easy choice and many realtors don't give the service buyer's deserve however if you pick carefully, I believe you will benefit greatly from the experience.

Best of luck to you in your future home buying experiences.  Your feedback is very much appreciated.

 

My second comment is for "Buyer Looking for Information".  Without seeing the Agreement that is used in your area, I cannot comment on your contract's specific ramifications.  The Agreement that I use, has a time limit which is set up front by both the agent and buyer.  If the buyer does not purchase a property within the specified time frame, than the agreement expires and both realtor and buyer are no longer under contract with each other subject to a holdover period (used in the event your realtor under contract shows you a home that you purchase shortly after your contract expires).  Commission is only payable if a buyer purchases a home while the realtor is under contract or during the holdover period if the property was first introduced during the contract.  No penalty is payable for not buying a home during this period.  If you are under contract with an agent and unhappy with the service you are getting, I would express this to them.  You may be surprised by your realtors willingness to either shape up or tear up the contract.  Good luck with whatever you decide to do!  Thanks very much for your question.

Nov 30, 2009 02:49 AM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

To be in control of their compensation a Buyer Agent MUST use a Buyer Broker Agreement - or be willing to accept the amount offered in the MLS without complaint.

Aug 01, 2010 02:05 AM
Mike Mayer
Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC - Lafayette, LA

Lindsay, this is very well done piece on a current topic of importance. Congrats on the feature!

 

Apr 03, 2011 11:16 PM