Buyer Representation Agreement
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What You Should Know
- A Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) turns a customer into a client of a real estate agent.
- You don’t have to sign a BRA, but it will affect your agent’s or brokerage’s obligations to you.
- Agents have a fiduciary duty to act in a client's best interests, but there is no such duty to work in a customer’s best interests.
- In some provinces, an exclusive BRA means that the agent that you are signing with will be your only agent. You cannot work with another agent unless the home search criteria is different.
- BRAs usually last 90 days, but can be up to 6 months or longer
- The BRA will also include services that you want to be included, such as real estate advertising or open houses, along with defining who will pay for these services.
- Buyer representation agreements can be cancelled if there is mutual consent with your agent and your BRA contains a clause that allows you to do so.
- BRAs only define your relationship with the agent or brokerage. You are not forced to purchase a home with them or during the length of the contract.
A Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) is a written contract between you and your real estate agent that confirms your business relationship. It is an important document that outlines the services your real estate agent provides and what your real estate agent expects from you. This includes:
- The agent’s duties and obligations to the buyer
- Agency relationships
- The scope of the agent’s duties
- Buyer obligations
Your real estate agent will ask you to sign a BRA before making a purchase offer on a house. You are required by law to sign a BRA when working with a real estate agent. When shopping for homes, you should also make sure to get the best home insurance policies.
Standard Buyer Representation Agreement Forms
The forms listed below are posted by provincial real estate associations and serve as standard BRA contracts.
Should I sign a buyer representation agreement?
A Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) is a legal requirement if you want to work with a agent. You should never sign a contract that you do not fully understand, so make sure that you ask questions and accept every point in the BRA. Only sign a BRA if you agree with all the terms and you want the real estate agent to represent you.
By signing a BRA, you give up certain privileges and you gain some benefits:
- Representation: A BRA ensures that your real estate agent will work in your best interests and abide by the services listed in your contract. They can handle much of the homebuying process including negotiating, inspecting, and paperwork.
- Clarification: By formalizing your professional relationship, a BRA clearly lays out exactly what your real estate agent expects from you and what you can expect from them.
- Negotiable: Most of the terms in a BRA can be negotiated with your real estate agent. If you are unhappy with the contract, do not sign it.
- Locked Term: By designating the real estate agent as your representative, if you purchase property during the contract term, your real estate agent will receive a commission no matter what.
- Exclusivity: With an exclusive BRA, you will not be able to use other real estate agents. If you later realize that you’re unhappy with your agent, you cannot go elsewhere during the contract term.
How long does a buyer representation agreement last?
The contract length is one of the first things included in a BRA. During the contract duration, your real estate agent is entitled to a commission on home purchases and must work in accordance with the terms set by the contract. A BRA should have a clause that addresses exactly when the agreement begins and when it expires. You are not required to buy a home or place a purchase offer during the contract duration.
For example, this is the duration clause in the Ontario Real Estate Association’s (OREA) Buyer Representation Agreement:
The expiration can be set at any date, but if the contract length exceeds six months, the buyer must initial the document. This rarely happens, so these initials are usually omitted.
The holdover clause designates a period of time as the “Holdover Period”. During this period, which typically lasts between 30 and 90 days, the agent is entitled to a commission on a home purchase or lease introduced to the buyer during the original BRA contract length. This means that your real estate agent may still receive a commission even after the contract’s expiration. You should ask if a BRA includes a holdover clause.
Non-Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreements
Non-exclusive BRAs provide the same details as a regular BRA and they have a clause for commissions. However, the buyer may use any real estate agent to find a property and only the agent that found the property is compensated. The commission is often included in the purchase price and will always be paid for by the seller. This means that home buyers do not have to provide compensation to the real estate agent.
Cancellation of Buyer Representation Agreement
Buyer representation agreements are legally binding contracts so they are often difficult to cancel, but there are still many things you can do.
- BRAs often have a clause allowing you and your agent to terminate the contract by mutual consent. If your agent gives you the option of terminating your contract, this is the easiest way to do it.
- If your real estate agent refuses to cancel your contract, you can ask the brokerage for a cancellation. Real estate agents are required to work for a brokerage. Technically, you are the brokerage firm’s client and they have the power to cancel your BRA.
- If both your agent and your brokerage refuse to cancel the contract, you can go to your state’s real estate council to file a complaining, ask for an investigation, or request a mediator. If your agent is not performing the services outlined in the BRA, you have solid ground to forcefully cancel the contract.
- As a last resort, you can hire a lawyer or go to court. However, this is costly and may not work out in your favor. If you have a good case, you can probably resolve the issue through your state’s real estate council. At this stage, it’s easier to wait until the contract expires.
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