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Austin Buyer…, Home Buyer in Austin, TX

Is te buyer's representation agreement legally binding if you feel the need to change agents?

Asked by Austin BuyerNow, Austin, TX Sat Sep 28, 2013

We've been actively and aggressively searching to buy a home in Austin. We signed a buyer's representation agreement with our well-reputed agent (of course thinking it’s required legally). But we don’t feel like we’ve been serviced well: 24-48 hours to get answers to houses we’re asking about. Finding out about houses that come on the market 1-2 days later or more. Search parameters we asked for not being searched as we thought and discovered 7 days later or more.

We sent our agent a note thanking her and telling her we need to move on. She responded (after delay) that we have signed a contract. So, is this Buyer's Representation Agreement actually binding? Even if we feel the agent is not serving us? We’re not complete amateurs, this service pales in comparison to our real estate dealings with all 5 other agents for past properties.

We need to get a new agent and buy a house!

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Answers

28
Do you have a copy of the agreement? If so it should list how long the duration of the agreement lasts. Secondly, I would go to the managing broker if you are not getting the service you expect- thirdly you can report the realtor to the national association of realtors- they have a code of ethics that they are supposed to follow, here is the website to read more about it http://www.realtor.org/
I hope this helps, we had someone try to get us to sign a contract and didn't do it- we went thru five realtors before finally we got the sixth and she was wonderful. I wish you the best in your house hunting, it is a draining experience- I know.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 29, 2013
Thanks everyone for the advice and I may be reaching out to some of you. A lot of info spinning in my head right now. But I welcome any new perspectives, too.

Considering we have not found the house we want to buy yet, from most everyone's replies here, my take-away is:
-Don't worry about it
-The agent can't force me to stay with them
-The agreement should be cancelable by either party

When I pick a new agent, I'll tell them what happened and leave it up to them to contact the former realtor to see if they want to compensate them for 2 months of online listing searches and a few trips to see houses (maybe 10 in all).
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 29, 2013
Dear "Austin BuyerNow",
Please remember that as real estate agents we cannot give you legal advice - and you have a legal question. Hopefully, you can obtain a copy of the buyers agreement you signed and have it reviewed by a real estate attorney. That should put your mind at rest and should not cost that much. Call one of these fine real estate attorneys and buy a few minutes of their time: Alan Ceshkar 512-306-0696 or Rodney Sheppard 512-472-3966.

And I'm sure I speak for all of us here that we sincerely hope your next experience is much better!
Best of Luck,

Claire McIntyre, Architect / Real Estate Broker / Builder
512 699 9912
MMI McIntyre Associates
Real Estate Brokerage
http://www.mmirealestate.com
claire@mmirealestate.com
McIntyre & McIntyre Inc
Architecture / Engineering
Project Management
http://www.mmibuildings.com
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
You got i! Best of luck. Time to enjoy your Sunday!
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
So to clarify, the agent/broker did not say we have to keep working with them. Just that we signed a contract and that they would like the new agent to contact them to discuss compensation for the time they put in helping us.

I guess I was caught off guard because if my client told me they weren't happy with my service with concrete details, I would probably apologize that they didn't feel served and then let them go.

But the part about "would like the new agent to contact them to discuss compensation for the time they put in helping us." makes me worry that we have a future problem.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
I would really like to look over you contract in person with you and I won't charge you anything for viewing the "contract" as this agent/broker is calling it. We can talk tonight or if you want to meet up, I have time tomorrow before 3pm.
512-773-5735
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
As in they're calling the Buyer Representation Agreement a "contract". Which maybe it is.

They said we signed a contract to work with them exclusively (we would never work with 2 agents at the same time anyway). And if we want to work with a new realtor then that realtor needs to contact our agent to arrange compensation for the time that has been put in with us so far.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Contract as in Buyer Representation Agreement or as in you put an offer in on a home? I would submit in writing to the broker that you are not happy and moving on. As for compensation for time agent spent working with you. Buyer agent gets paid commission at closing/funding. If you did not put an offer in for a home, you owe the agent nothing. Hope this helps clarify your concerns. Again- I am happy to have a conversation if it will help.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Your agent is busy with numerous other clients. It sounds like you have a star agent if they are getting back to you that quickly. You need to express your concerns to your agent. This is the biggest mistake buyers make.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 24, 2014
You need to talk to your ask for a meeting with both your Realtor and their broker at the same time. Explain to them why you are frustrated, and maybe the situation can be reconciled.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 16, 2013
The buyers rep is an employment agreement. It's not a promulgated form so you may fire your agent. Of course you are going to get a lot of responses to this question so good luck in your quest for representation. If you are searching for a home check out http://www.homecity.com. Our listings update daily so you will find only houses that are on the market.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 7, 2013
As Susie said I would contact her broker. It is always a good idea to work with an agent using a BRA because it outlines the duties to you and as a Realtor our duty is to always put our clients best interests above all else.

If you are not happy with the agent you are working with and he or she is not giving you the attention you feel you need then go to her broker and discuss. I would never force a client to work with me because of a BRA. When used it is just to outline my responsibilities to my client and not to essentially force them to stick with me I have never had a client want to stop working with me but if it ever happened for any reason I would use that as a tool to force them to stick with me.

Hope this helps.

_____________________________________________________
Don Groff | REALTOR® & Mortgage Broker
Austin Real Estate Pros & 360 Lending Group
o 512.669.5599 | m 512.633.4157 | listings@dongroff.com
websites: http://www.AustinListed.com | http://www.360LendingGroup.com
Web Reference: http://www.AustinListed.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 3, 2013
If you are not happy with your agent, then I would suggest talking to her broker.

Good luck,
Susie Kay, Realtor®
GRI, CHMS, SFR
Residential/Commercial/Investment
English-Indonesian-Hokkien
------------------------------------------------------------------
United Real Estate
III Lincoln Centre, 5430 LBJ Freeway #280
Dallas, TX 78240
469-371-2899
susie_k@att.net

http://www.dfwdreamhomes.net

Servicing your real estate need is my priority!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 1, 2013
If you are not happy with your agent, then I would suggest talking to her broker.

Good luck,
Susie Kay, Realtor®
GRI, CHMS, SFR
Residential/Commercial/Investment
English-Indonesian-Hokkien
------------------------------------------------------------------
United Real Estate
III Lincoln Centre, 5430 LBJ Freeway #280
Dallas, TX 78240
469-371-2899
susie_k@att.net

http://www.dfwdreamhomes.net

Servicing your real estate need is my priority!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 1, 2013
I am a physician as well as a realtor. I have had a lot of experience with my own personal transactions prior to becoming a realtor. Do yourself a favor and end this agreement. You deserve better. Talk to the agent's broker. As other posts have suggested, no broker wants an unhappy client. There are good realtors and bad realtors, just like there are good physicians and bad physicians! You want Rolls Royce treatment and outcomes with either!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 29, 2013
As a realtor, personally, I would not want to have to deal with this agent and they certainly deserve no compensation as they did not help you. If you must buy before the agreement terminates and another realtor is willing to cut a deal with them that might be your best option. Personally, I would not do that.
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
But they did not help you! I cannot give you legal advice. I understand your trepidation and would advise you to contact an attorney to be honest. You do have an agreement and you are legally bound to it. If your broker/agent wants to make something of your breaking the agreement they can do so. If a buyer wasn't happy with me I would certainly let them out of the agreement (with something in writing) as this is just not good customer service. I'm sorry you have to go through this but again, it might be best to consult with attorney.
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
So to clarify, the agent/broker did not say we have to keep working with them. Just that we signed a contract and that they would like the new agent to contact them to discuss compensation for the time they put in helping us.

But the part about "would like the new agent to contact them to discuss compensation for the time they put in helping us." makes me worry that we have a future problem.
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
Unfortunately, this person is the agent/broker. What's your take on that?
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
I'm not an Austin agent... so my advice may be a little off-target.

Please make sure you get a copy of the buyer's agreement (which IS a contract, if both sides agreed to it and signed it at it's beginning). Unless it states so, a typical buyer's agreement (at least in my area) cannot be unilaterally cancelled.

And watch out... some of those buyer's agreement state that any home you purchase, during the life of the buyer's agreement, entitles the agent to compensation... and if the compensation isn't paid by the listing agency (or if it's less than X%), that you, the buyer, will compensate (or make up the difference) the agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 29, 2013
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
MVP'08
Contact
Hello,
The short answer is this, It's a "Buyer Agreement" not a "Contract"
An Agreement can only be an agreement when the parties to the agreement continue to agree.
Send an email to the agent and their broker (if you know their email. Sounds like you found a part time agent as that's the only reason you don't get responses in a timely fashion consistently. In this market I make sure my clients know we must act immediately. The days of accumulating properties of interest all week and going out on Saturday to look at them are over for now. The best homes are gone in a matter of days if not hours.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 29, 2013
Bill, I'd love to get your take on why a buyer's agreement is not a contract.
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
Our realtor is an agent/broker that seems to be on every Realtor board possible. But you hit the nail on the head. It's an hours and maybe a day turnaround kind of market but we sometimes get answers after 2-3 days. Most everyone on this board agrees with you while I'd say a quarter of the answers say it is in fact a contract. But I figure even if it is a contract, we have not been well serviced and I can't fathom a mediator or whoever thinking that a client has to be locked to their agent in such a case.

To be totally fair, the Realtor's email back to us did not say "you cannot leave me", it said that the new realtor needs to contact them to arrange compensation for the time already put in with us to search for homes.
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
Hi "Austin BuyerNow",
I hope this response finds you doing well and I think we have all had experienced with individuals, especially when it comes to customer service, that do not meet our needs. I am a Central Texas native and REALTOR and I am a firm believer that if someone would choose not to use my services, we can always shake hands, wish each other well and move forward. The ultimate goal should be to assist you in finding a home with open communication. Have you had a firm conversation with your current agent? You have stated that you would like to move on but, did you ask them to please allow you to end your relationship with them as they are not meeting your needs - in writing? I can't image an agent would want to continue a relationship where all parties are not happy as this is our goal as professionals. If so and you still choose to utilize another agents, I would recommend contacting their managing broker and explaining the situation - The broker is really who your agreement is with and not the agent (the agent is an agent for the brokerage). The broker can connect you with another one of their agents who may be a better match or wish you well and allow you to move forward (in any situation I have been aware of like yours). Best wishes to you, Laura Rosales, REALTOR
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
We emailed him to say that we are changing realtor's due to bad responsiveness in a time-sensitive market. The realtor replied to this by email - so we have proof he received it.

He is an agent/broker. So there is no boss to go to.

So to clarify, the agent/broker did not say we have to keep working with them. Just that we signed a contract and that they would like the new agent to contact them to discuss compensation for the time they put in helping us. Of course I don't know what they would expect as compensation for 5 trips and listing searching for about 2 months. Is there a REALTOR code among REALTORS in this situation?

On one hand I understand someone wanting to be paid for spending time with us. On the other hand, it's a contingent business arrangement and it seems nuts to say that no matter my performance I shall be paid.

I'd love your take on this and thanks for the help!
Flag Sun Sep 29, 2013
You've received some good answers already. I just have this to add: Ask the current agent/broker for a copy of the buyer representation you signed. Some brokers have their own forms developed. Most will state that the agreement (also called a contract) can be terminated by either party with written notice. If you have any doubt about interpretation have it reviewed by an attorney.

Best Regards,

Claire McIntyre, Architect / Real Estate Broker / Builder
512 699 9912
MMI McIntyre Associates
Real Estate Brokerage
http://www.mmirealestate.com
claire@mmirealestate.com
McIntyre & McIntyre Inc
Architecture / Engineering
Project Management
http://www.mmibuildings.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
Agency is a Unilateral Contract which means either party can terminate the active representation component AT ANY TIME. You are still subject to the protection period components and if you are under contract on a property you may owe a commission, but presuming that is not the case, you are free to take your business elsewhere. If you want to talk further, send me a note. Susan.Blaine@KW.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
You have a contract . . . as do they. Both are responsible to the agreement . . . both have responsibilities. It sound like the agent has not fulfilled their end of the bargain. And their breach of the agreement might allow you to move on.

That being said. It should be a win-win. If she is not having the time to help you in your efforts, she should be willing to allow you to seek help elsewhere. If she is not willing, another agent might be able to negotiate a solution for you. A referral fee out of your new agents commission for example. My recommendation is to find an agent that will work with the other agent, not just focus on what's in it for them. These will also be the agents that work hardest for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
Ok, unless you have a "live" contract, meaning that if you have put in an offer to purchase and the seller has accepted, you are free to fire your agent.(BTW this goes both ways as a Seller or a Buyer)

If you are under contract--"Live or in the middle of Negotiation", and you are unhappy with your representation then you should call the agent's broker. ( I am sure any Realtor on here would be happy to look up said Broker's contact info).

Otherwise you are free to fire your agent. Also to clarify....You CAN purchase a home that was previously "shown" to you by your soon to be fired agent", with another agent.... "Procure" is the key....Let's say your soon to be ex agent showed you a home, but you didn't make an offer, could not come to terms on the sale price with the seller, or even if you just discussed the property with your soon to be fire agent online, that isn't Procuring a Sale.

Example, You and I have a contract saying I am your agent...I show you 10 homes. You like one, maybe even make offer in on it...Let's say $5K below list, seller doesn't accept, we move on. I suck, don't return calls, etc. you send me a letter saying that you want to fire me, so then I am fired. Then a week later your new agent (after of course you have notified me in writing) shows you other homes including the same home that I showed you and made a previous offer on, and now you decide to make another OFFER (Let's say at list price) and it's accepted. Then the new agent Procured the sale )They made the sale happen!

Of course the ex agent will more than likely call the new agent and complain that they "showed it first" and say that they should be paid because they "showed it first and Procured the sale" But the reality is... Did they counter? Did the stay on top of the changing market? Were they able to negotiate an "Accepted" offer? "Were they there for inspections? etc...Keep Emails, Voice Mails, Texts. from ex agent if this applies. Procure means, "cause something happen". (Underline "cause") Not show someone something and expect to be paid because they showed it to you. Procure means "cause". Not simply show, ask, or try. In the wise words of YODA." There is do or do not. There is not try".)

NOTE! If your soon to be ex agent has made an offer on your behalf, and it was accepted and you pulled because you don't like your current agent (wrote and fired them) and then you made a new offer with another agent because you don't "like" your agent, then you need to work with the original "procuring" agent and/or his broker until the deal is done or dead.Otherwise you could be in breach of contract and then you could have a big issues.. Hope this helps and best of luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
--First again Grammar!!--Obviously I am on a roll tonight...Sorry....And P.S. I would never pay another Realtor a "referral fee" if they weren't doing their job. Never going to compensate anyone for inadequacies. Now I would if they called me to assist you because they couldn't handle their business, or if you were out of their desired area. But not simply because at one point you contacted them to assist you and they put you in a buyers rep agreement, only to lock you in and not perform, and then expect compensation from me because you left them. Just food for thought moving forward.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
The industry standard Buyers Rep contract is from TAR (Texas Association of Realtor's) and you said previously that the Realtor was reputable so using the assumption that they are with a large brokerage, this is more than likely the contract that they used. These contracts are not designed to be one sided, they are designed to be Unilateral (meaning that in the best interest of both of you). If either are unsatisfied (refer to above) they can be dissolved. If I were you, I would be a little more clear to the agent, but that is your call. I don't use these contracts and can honestly say that I never will. I live by the philosophy of if that if you would like to use me, then do, if not then don't. If I am doing my job, there is not need to worry about you using someone else. If I am not then I haven't earned your business.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
To be clear, we have not found a house we like or even gotten close. This is very helpful info, thanks! I like your answer, of course. May I ask how you are so sure that all it takes is a letter from us?

We already sent the agent an email saying "thank you, good bye, we want a new agent" so I assume that suffices as a letter firing them.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
There is do or do not. There is "no" try. Sorry for other typos, but couldn't stand for YODA's words to be incorrect! :)
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Ask for a new agent at that office.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
Unfortunately it's an agent/broker.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
To answer your question, yes the contract is legally binding. However, you should read it carefully as there is probably some language spelling out the terminating the agency relationship. Regardless, you should definitely be able to be released if you do not wish to continue.

If you are to end the agency relationship, Aggressively seeking homes is something I enjoy quite a bit. I believe you have to see a lot of homes and know what you don't want to figure out what you do. I would be happy to set up criteria where you are notified immediately of new listings or price changes. In addition, I make myself available when it is convenient for your schedule.

Please feel free to contact me anytime for a no obligation consultation.

Steve Nusinow
(512)922-7588
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
I would be happy to forward you a copy of the buyers representation forms.... You could read through it...you stated you never got a copy of the one you signed! I may be worthwhile to have a copy to read!

Scott
512-217-0534


...call me or text me an email address
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
Thanks Scott. I did find it online, I just meant that I didn't get a copy of the signed and filled out form.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Typically a Buyer Representation agreement, much like a Listing Agreement, is a legally binding document. However you did not disclose which representation agreement you signed or what the terms are, so it is difficult for me to answer definitively. If you express your discontent clearly to the agent and/or their broker more importantly, most likely they will let you out of the agreement so you can move on to find someone who will service your needs properly. Most agents and brokers do not want a client who does not want to work with them, nor do they want any type of bad publicity or legal ramifications.

If after you do actually get out of the agreement, I, as most that have commented, would be happy to speak with you about helping you properly to find the home you are looking for. I personally happen to give my clients 100% all the time, seven days a week, and I'm always on the ball, and have the reputation, references, and accolades to prove it. My broker, Keller Williams Realty, is #1 in the greater Austin area, and I am one of their top agents and a Master Instructor(In my office of 325 agents I am currently ranked #8). I voluntarily teach Buyer Representation, Negotiations, etc. and believe myself and my team would be a great asset to you. I think you will find my services night and day comparatively speaking to the situation you have described. I would be happy to let you talk to a few of my clients and get their opinions firsthand.

Like I said, if you would like to discuss working with me once you're out of your current agreement, I will be happy to talk with you and see what I can do to help. I am 100% certain you would be happy with my services. Thanks, Joe

Joe Jarusinsky, Realtor/Master Instructor, Keller Williams Realty, Austin's #1 Real Estate Company, Call 512-261-4415
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
Thanks, Joe. We're regrouping and trying to figure out our next move. I did have a couple of direct recommends, too. I'll take a look at your profile!

So to clarify, the agent/broker did not explicitly say we have to keep working with them. They just replied with a very short, dry email. They said we signed a contract to work with them exclusively (we would never work with 2 agents at the same time anyway). And if we want to work with a new realtor then that realtor needs to contact our agent to arrange compensation for the time that has been put in with us so far.

What do you make of that?
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Call the realtor's boss..... called a 'broker'

What a classless realtor you have.....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
Thanks for the post. It's an agent/broker we're dealing with. And they have been nice enough, just not so quick on the draw with responding and getting info. We've had wonderful dealings with all our other agents and have them to compare by.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Just let your agent know in writing you wish to end the relationship.

Keep a copy of the letter for your records...make sure to sign and date it.



Get back to house hunting with a Realtor who has the time to focus on your best interests!!!!


Best of luck!

Scott
512-217-0534
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
If they are well reputed etc then you can break that contract by firing your Realtor. If you would like to know why a buy representation agreement so important I'll be happy to answer that for you in detail please give me a call - 512-516-1711
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
You are only bound by the contract if you purchase a home they have shown you, and it doesn't sound like your anywhere near that point. Just politely tell them you don't feel that you are a good fit and would like to cancel the contract and move on.

It should be as easy as that.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
I would be happy to contact the other broker/agent for you, as they requested. I don't require my clients to enter into a contract until we find a house they want to make an offer on. It's that simple. This market is too tight to be locked in. I only work with a limited few clients at one time so I can dedicate all my time to them. My clients will feel my dedication and as we work together you will feel your getting the right representation! And if not, we move on.

Evie Ellis
512-657-5264
Evie@EEllisGroup.com
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
We politely wrote an email explaining that the timing of response is not working for us in this hot market and that we need to find a new realtor. The response was that we've entered a contract with him and to have the new agent contact him so they can discuss compensation for the time he put in.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Sorry to hear about your experience with yourcurrent realtor. You can give a written notice of termination to the agent/broker. In Texas, either party may cancel this type of "service" agreement. You may also want to check the amount of days you hired your buyer's agent for because it may be expired already.

I am an Austin native Realtor. I would love an opportunity to interview with you to see if we are a good fit.
In this market, there is no reason to wait to see property that may be gone before you get to view it! I can answer any questions you have as well. :)

Best wishes,
Melissa Galvan
512-773-5735
mgalvan@kw.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
Thanks for the reply - this has become an even more stressful time now! I take it our email telling them why we're not feeling serviced and that we need to get a new agent was the written termination. We wish him no ill will - just need someone responsive and a better fit.

You wrote "In Texas, either party may cancel this type of "service" agreement." Is there some legal basis for that? Or is that part of the Austin Realtor code?

I think the agent wrote it for 6 months! Either way I've read enough now to see these aren't required. When it was put in front of me, I definitely thought that this was required TX paperwork so I didn't question it. I also notice it's called an "agreement" and not a "contract" which raises my eyebrows that this doesn't hold much water.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Most brokers will let you out of the agreement since it wouldn't be pleasant for either party to work with somebody who is unhappy. Yes, representation agreements should be signed, but not for a long duration. I always have it for a few days only just to test if the clients are happy with my service and also if I can work well with them. If we all decide we are a good fit, we extend the agreement. The broker should let you out without too much fuss. May be you decide you are not in the market any more for a home purchase.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
I think it was for 6 months - we didn't get a copy. The response from the agent/broker was to have the new agent contact them to discuss proper compensation for the time they put in already.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
Those agreements usually bind you to a company, not an agent. Call the office and ask for the office broker - they are the boss in the office. Ask to come and discuss issues and the broker can get another agent to work with you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 28, 2013
It's an agent/broker.
Flag Sat Sep 28, 2013
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