Realtor Asks You to Sign a Contract Prior to Finding a House and You're the Buyer
Buyers Agency Agreements are Legitimate
Should buyers have expectations of the Realtor they decide to work with? Absolutely! In addition to knowledge and experience, an ideal Realtor is going to be honest and ethical, committed, available, and other-centered. A good Realtor will typically work for a reputable company where good broker support is available. It's important for a Realtor (and his or her team) to pay close attention to detail, which includes possessing good listening and communication skills. A buyers Realtor should be willing to point out potential concerns and maintain confidentiality.
Is it fair for a Realtor to have expectations of buyer clients? Indeed! Realtors often find themselves discouraged about working in this industry due to people being fickle and demonstrating a lack of honor. Personally, I'd prefer to determine from the beginning what type of character I'm going to be investing my time and energy into. I've been in business long enough now that I no longer feel the need to try and "make it work" with everyone who comes my way. My time is as valuable as the next persons and I expect others to demonstrate the same level of respect, courtesy, commitment and loyalty that is expected from me, thus the reason for requesting a buyer client to sign a Buyers Agency Agreement. In doing so, they are essentially pledging to work solely with me for a specified period of time (six months is standard). Consider it an exercise in professionalism.
In years past, it's been hard for me to ask someone I know to sign a Buyers Agency Agreement. It's even been difficult to ask people who I didn't know well, once a genuine connection was established. Yet it's just good business and in 2012, I intend to consistently include it. Now I will not necessarily request this upon a first meeting....I understand that it may take a few conversations and some time spent together to determine whether or not we would work well together. It's important for a client to feel at ease with the Realtor they have chosen. So after having gone out to look at houses once together, if we are to repeat this activity, the agreement will need to be signed.
Since this world is full of flawed people (show me a person who isn't), regardless of whether a person is a Realtor or a person who is utilizing the services of a real estate professional, greed (or desperation) can cause some people's ethics to go right out the window. Let me include an example to support the case I'm attempting to make for use of a Buyer's Agency Agreement: Buyer "X" just drove by a new construction plat where a model home is consistently held "open." She decides to stop and look at this house since the neighborhood is in a location she initially wasn't interested in but is now reconsidering. Buyer X decides she really likes the home and may be interested in putting in an offer. Realtors are supposed to be bound by a code of ethics which includes asking a prospective buyer if they are currently working with a Realtor. If the buyer says "NO", great, that Realtor has the potential to earn the buyer's business. If the answer is "YES," that Realtor needs to back off. All too often what happens though, is some Realtor's will try and coerce that buyer to work with them, perhaps by offering incentives or possibly attempting to portray themselves as the better Realtor. If the Realtor holding the home open knows however that a "Buyers Agency Agreement" has been signed, it communicates that expectations have been set and it serves to establish a "boundary."
Honest, respectful communication ideally is where it's at....and not everyone is going to be a good listener or a good communicator. Some people have passive personality types. People and relationships can be complicated, whether they are personal or professional. I wish it weren't true but in all honesty I don't find it easy to like everyone I meet (and not everyone appreciates me either, regardless of the reason). Sometimes it takes a while to discover a persons true character. I don't want to prolong agony whether I'm representing a buyer or a seller if it becomes apparent we don't work well together. Time to cancel the contract, release them and not take it personally! Recently a friend who has a daughter living in Montana called me saying she and her son in law had signed a Buyers Agency Agreement but had since regretted it. Sounded as though they had legitimate reasons for doing so since the Realtor was unresponsive and not readily available to help. The advice I gave was to contact the Realtor's principal managing broker and explain they wanted to be let out of the agreement (since they did not feel comfortable with directly confronting the Realtor). They did and were released of the commitment made to their Realtor.
There is a supernatural truth in that we reap what we sow.. Whether one is a Realtor or a person in need of real estate services, may we remember (and live by) The Golden Rule.