In my last column I explained what agency is and why it is important to sellers. This month I would like to explain the different types of agency available to buyers and what you should know about each of them. When you decide to buy a house you will probably work with a Realtor. You will also probably assume that that Realtor is working to represent your best interests. That may or may not be true based on your agency agreement with them.
According to our license law, you will be presumed to be represented by the agent you are working with unless you have a written agreement otherwise. That seems pretty simple but what if you don’t have any agreement with your agent? Are they working on your behalf or not? All clients should have a written agency disclosure with their agent when they start working with them so there is no misunderstanding about their level of representation. That is also the reason why you want to work with one Realtor that is representing you, not a different agent for every house you look at. Since our new agency laws went into effect in 2000 Buyers now have the right to their own representation.
There are several different types of agency available to buyers. Probably the most common type of buyer agency is non-exclusive buyer agency. This means that you will have a designated agent representing you as a client and assisting you in finding and purchasing a property. You can terminate the relationship at any time and you usually will not have to compensate your agent for their work as the seller of the property usually pays their commission. Under this type of agency you can expect the agent to work on your behalf and represent you only, not the seller, as he will have his own agent.
The other type of buyer agency is exclusive buyer agency. This is more common in bigger cities where buyers want an agent to work with exclusively and are willing to compensate them for their work. In this type of representation, the buyer agrees to use their agent for all property acquisitions they might make during a specified time period, whether that agent was directly involved or not.
The remaining types of agency offer limited or no representation. The first of these being dual agency. As I discussed last month when explaining seller agency dual agency has one agent representing both the buyer and the seller. They are limited in what they are able to do for each party and therefore there is potential for a conflict of interest. If you decide to let the listing agent of the home you are purchasing act as a dual agent and represent you as a buyer as well, you are getting less than complete representation. In that situation, the dual agent cannot assist you in suggesting a price to offer or help you negotiate the purchase. They also cannot assist the seller in negotiating on their behalf. This is why it is not the best idea to call the listing agent to see a property you are interested in purchasing. If you have your own designated buyer’s agent, you will be assured of having complete representation and a Realtor who is working for your best interests only. The last type of agency, No Agency or Ministerial Acts, is not really an agency relationship at all but more a customer relationship. The broker is merely providing a service such as showing you a property or filling out a contract but is not actually representing you. If you opt for this type of service you should probably hire an attorney as well so you have someone actually representing you in your purchase. You should always use an attorney in any real estate transaction but especially in this situation.
You, as a buyer, have the ability to be represented by your own agent and usually at no cost to you (unless you opt for exclusive representation) so now that you know what your options are, take advantage of buyer agency. Find one Realtor you feel comfortable working with and let them help you find the perfect home! For more information about agency visit my website at www.choicerealtyfreeport.com.