Buyer agreements: Nothing to fear, everything to gain

If your managing broker came into your office right this minute, and asked to see a copy of your listing contract with a seller client detailing your duties and responsibilities as an agent, you could probably produce it fairly quickly.

What if you were asked to produce the same thing for your latest buyer client? Would you have that at your fingertips as well? Do you have a list of buyer services?

The reality is that most REALTORS® don’t ask buyers to sign a Buyer’s Agency Exclusive Contract that explains the services they provide and how they will provide them — a document that ensures both Realtor and client are on the same page.

You may have provided the buyer with BCREA’s Working with a REALTOR® brochure, and asked for their signature on a Buyer Agency Acknowledgement form — but is that enough?

Dennis Wilson, FVREB Manager of Professional Standards, doesn’t think so. He has long advocated for signed buyer agreements.

“Many members get upset if they’ve been working with someone for a while and they don’t get paid when the client buys a property with another Realtor,” Dennis says. “But if you don’t have a signed Buyer’s Agency Exclusive Contract, a client can terminate a working relationship with you at any time.”

He understands that Realtors are hesitant to ask clients to sign a document that appears to bind them into a commitment with a Realtor. But he points out that buyer agreements can go a long way to reassure clients of the value you bring to the process, as long as you take the time to explain the key principles of the buyer agreement.

“Most buyers don’t understand the real estate process,” says Dennis.  “The agreement, along with a Schedule A, defines what your duties are, clarifies expectations, and protects your interests and the client’s interests.”

Paul Cowhig, FVREB Professional Standards Advisor, concurs. He says buyer agreements achieve four important things:

  1. It instills confidence in your client that you will be professional and ethical in your dealings with them.
  2. It establishes both the Realtor’s and the client’s obligations to one another to better ensure there are no unpleasant surprises.
  3. It raises the professional standards and expectations a client may have in their agent.
  4. And it guarantees you’ll be paid for your work.

“Properly explaining our agency relationships and expectations for services and remuneration, signed in writing, helps build a client’s confidence and shows your commitment to their best interest.”