Before you sign that buyer brokers' agreement...
It's standard operating procedure for a Realtor to ask a buyer client to sign a buyer broker agreement. These forms are usually a couple of pages of legalese that say basically you agree to work exclusively with this agent during your search for a new home. But before you sign on the dotted line, you need to read and, more important, understand what this agreement requires of you.
Depending upon the laws governing real estate transactions (and they vary from one jurisdiction to the next) the agent may be required by law to have your name on some piece of paper that authorizes her to show you homes and to represent you should you buy one of them. But whatever the boiler plate agreement the agent provides might say about how this relationship will work, you need to understand that you can negotiate all of the terms of the agreement before you make a commitment to an agent.
You can limit the time frame and scope of the agreement.
You are about to go on the first date with this agent who you might not know. If she insists that the law requires a buyer broker agreement, you can limit it to one day and have it apply only to the homes she shows you. If you are impressed with this agent, you can extend the agreement or sign a new one when you are certain that you are comfortable working with her.
You can include a clause that allows you to cancel the agreement if it turns out that you and the agent are a bad match.
Actually, a lot of agents (including myself) write this into the boiler-plate and include language that allows the agent or the buyere out of the agreement if it's a bad match.
Like many commercial agreements, buyer broker agreements may not be written to protect the consumer.
Most of the boiler plate agreements are written to say that if you buy a house or apartment during the term of your agreement, your agent will get paid - whether or not she has anything at all to do with helping you to find it. It can be a for sale by owner that you find on Craig's list or your mother's house. It can be a place that another agent finds and helps you buy. If you buy during the period covered by the agreement, you owe the agent a commission. So the primary purpose of the agreement is to ensure the agent gets paid.
Never sign a buyer broker agreement without reading and understanding it. And remember that you can edit it to fit your needs.
- If the agent has made a lot of promises, incorporate them into the agreement.
- If the agent does not live up to these promises, be sure you can cancel the agreement.
Working with a good buyer broker is the best way to buy a house. And before you contractually obligate yourself to a long-term monogomous relationship with any agent, you need a period of time to get to know one another.