I want to buy a cottage. I’ve called about listings in a few different areas but am having a hard time getting local agents to offer any real help with my search. What’s the problem? – UNSURE
DEAR UNSURE: Agents field a ton of random phone calls. If you want someone to provide genuine help with your search, I suggest finding an agent you like in each of your regions of interest, and signing a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) with each of them. It’s not mandatory to sign a BRA, but it will let the agent(s) know you’re serious, and bind them to a set of fiduciary obligations that protect you both as you move forward in your professional relationship.
Without a BRA, you are merely a “customer”. This means a Realtor is obligated to treat you with honesty and integrity, but beyond that, has a limited duty of care (it’s the kind of relationship you have when you meet an agent at an open house, or chat casually over the phone). With a signed BRA in place, the landscape changes: you’ve hired a specific brokerage and are elevated to “client” status, which is a completely different relationship. As a client, your Realtor is bound to protect you above all else, obey your instructions, respect your confidentiality, submit offers on your behalf and negotiate according to your best interests. The BRA puts you in a position of power. It also gives your Realtor the confidence to invest time and resources into your search, knowing you’ll stick with them through the buying process. It creates a level of trust that runs both ways.
The BRA itself is a binding contract that commits you to work with a chosen brokerage, should you decide to buy property in a certain area and within a specific time frame. It outlines details like your preferred property type and geographic area. It defines how long you are obligated to work with your Realtor and determines what the brokerage’s compensation will be. While a BRA in no way obligates you to buy something, it does put into writing your intention to work with a specific brokerage should you decide to purchase a property within the set parameters.
For your own protection, I would always recommend signing a contract with your Realtor, whether you’re buying or selling. The Buyer Representation Agreement (for buyers) and Listing Agreement (for sellers) put your expectations, rights and obligations in writing and ensure that your interests remain your Realtor’s top priority. For your own piece of mind, I suggest reviewing any agreements with your agent before you sign, to ensure you’re comfortable with the protections and obligations they contain.
PRO TIP: As a client, the agreements you sign are binding contracts which obligate you to follow through on your actions. If you enter into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the conditions (if any) have been waived or fulfilled, you’ll be expected to complete the transaction. Walking away from a deal could constitute a breach of contract, and may result in you losing your deposit, owing compensation to brokerages on both sides, or even facing a lawsuit from the seller. It’s important to understand what you’re signing, so be sure to work with an experienced Realtor who can walk you through the process. #AskDavid #Advice