What makes a realtor MY realtor? Is there a signed agreement?

Asked by Jenerra, Portland, OR Thu Feb 5, 2009

When I requested more information about a home, I was contacted by an agent who claims she is not the listing agent, although she is from the same firm. She has been calling me and advising me about the process and my options, but I have been careful not to ask many questions. If I decide to put in an offer on my own, without her assistnace, does she get a commission, even if I didn't sign anything naming her as my realtor?

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Sarita Dua, Agent, Portland, OR
Wed Feb 11, 2009
This is a great question, Jenerra.

You do not have to use a signed agreement to have an agent represent you. While buyer agency has been around awhile, there are many agents that do not use explicit agreements outlining responsibilities and compensation for buyers agents. Since the majority of the industry is just getting used to the concept, many agents do work with buyers (and buyers work with them, exclusively, without a signed agreement.)

What you are describing is common and is a practice where leads are given to agents looking to build their business (many agents go out of their way to not represent the buyer AND seller, myself included) and refer "sign calls" to other agents. I can see why it may be confusing and you are right to withhold information from a party whose interests are unclear. Until you have an agent you trust, I would recommend not speaking directly to the other agents. Choose an agent to represent you and then he/she can get you all the info you need on the property.

If you do put an offer on your own, she (the one who is calling you) would not get paid (assuming again she did not write the offer). You will not get the buyer's agent commission specified in the listing. The listiing agent would get both sides of the commission in this scenario.

That all being said, it is rare you would use a Realtor and not know it. If she has not written the offer, then she is not representing to you. If she does write it, the top part of page 1 of the sale agreement outlines clearly who represents who.

Hope this helps...
Thanks for asking...
Web Reference:  http://www.AskSarita.com
0 votes
June Lizotte,…, , Portland, OR
Mon Feb 9, 2009
Hi Again Jenerra,

I am happy to continue to answer your questions. I sort of answered part of this on the last question but want to speak to a couple other aspects of the question you've asked. You should know that any agent who represents you as a Buyer's Agent must be in a fiduciary relationship with you which is memorialized by signatures. That agent is supposed to provide you with a written disclosure known as a Agency Disclosure, describing the different relationships between a buyer, seller and listing agent and buyer's agent.

If you would like to see what a copy of this looks like please ask me and I'll email one directly to you. Contact me through my web site for that.

It is possible two agents from the same company could be the buyer's agent and another a seller's listing agent. However, in that case the relationship changes to a limited agency which is overseen by the principal broker.

It appears you are not feeling comfortable with the agent you've spoken to, or you don't intend to use them to represent you, in that case you should be forth right and let her/him know you have not yet chosen an agent to represent you. If the home is listed you will be at the disadvantage by trying to go into a transaction as an unrepresented buyer. Your interests will not be protected, nor considered, and in fact, the listing agent will ultimately have to oversee the transaction but won't have to keep your best interests as the priority. Therefore, you will never be represented to the fullest if you go it on your own.

You've been a bit confusing between two of your email questions, you seem to have indicated two different things...in one Trulia question you indicated you weren't planning on going into a transaction without representation and in this one you are indicating you are considering putting an offer in on your own without representation. Which ever way you choose you shouldn't be concerned whether fees are paid since they are not paid by you as a buyer in most cases.

The buyer's agent who is trying to get you to use her services will only get paid if you initiate a written offer and have her represent you. Simply talking to her doesn't create an agency relationship but can lead her to believe you are intending to use her services. I'm at risk of having you not call me for services; however, it would be wise for you to understand how hard Realtors work for their clients. They offer services, willingly help, often without any commitment at first from buyer, they do a lot of research, run around for the buyer, process a mass of documents, oversee transaction requirements and HOURS more. They often work initially without commitment from buyer, with the hope that the buyer will allow them to represent them, hoping the buyer won't go from agent to agent expecting all to serve them.

Buyer's should always have representation to protect their interests. They should begin their home search by finding an agent to represent them. One agent will provide all the necessary services and representation. Collecting data about the agent to find the right one is the first step, rather than going it alone and calling different agents for each property they want to view.

Listing agents have a fiduciary relationship (commitment) to the Seller exclusively. They should not be the one to write the buyer's offer because the buyer doesn't receive exclusive representation that way, therefore the buyer's interests are not priority.

Once the buyer has chosen an agent and commits to working with them solely, that buyer then should feel free to call upon that agent any time for answers and help without hesitation. Making many agents work for you with no commitment to them is simply taking advantage of those professionals. For this reason a smart buyer's agent will request a Buyer Broker Agreement be signed and a buyer should understand the importance of the commitment represented by that agreement. The agent should educate the buyer. That agreement establishes a mutual commitment to work with each other. The agent commits to working hard for the buyer and has the buyer's commitment that work won't be in vain. No agent wants to give hours of time and effort to help a buyer who won't commitment. (That would be like you working endlessly for an employer and then not getting your paycheck at the end of the pay period. )

This is meant to be an educational web site for buyers and sellers and professionals. I hope this information gives you a perspective that will help you in your home search. Of course I would love to help you find that perfect dream home. My services are guaranteed!

June Lizotte, Quality Service Platinum Award Recipient
Realtor, Providing REAL Service
Prudential NW Properties
6400 SE Lake Rd., Suite 200
Portland, OR 97222
To see Quality Service Rating http://www.qualityservice.org
Web Reference:  http://www.junelizotte.com
0 votes
Carla Muss-J…, , Portland, OR
Fri Feb 6, 2009
I tried answering your question in detail, because this is a very good, legal question. And while I do not practice law, real estate is not only: location, location, location, but it's: legal, legal, legal.

Real Estate Law has many components. One of those components is the law of agency. The agency relationship between a licensed real estate agent (and not all are Realtors(r)) is complicated, and many agents who are licensed don't even know.

I'd love to answer your questions, and spent a good while composing a reply. For some reason, my answer is bumped back and I can't post it. But if you want to get int touch with me, I'll forward the original response I tried to post here.

I like to tell people that I'm the type of agent that follows the rules . . . and I actually know what they are!!

Please don't try to buy a home without a good agent. There are some good ones out there who will protect your best interests. Just because someone has a license doesn't make them good.

Compare it to going to the hair salon. Just because someone has got a licensse from the cosmetology board doesn't mean they know how to cut hair!

Some of the answers you've received are incorrect. Real estate agency is an Oregon State statute. There are only THREE types of agency relationship any real estate agent may have, and that is: Seller Agent, Buyer Agent or Disclosed Limited Agent. OAR 863-015-215(4) This is the Oregon Administrative Ruling governing agency relationship (in the State of Oregon). I'd be happy to supply you with a copy.
Web Reference:  http://www.EBAPortland.com
0 votes
Mary Kidwell, Agent, Knoxville, TN
Thu Feb 5, 2009
My suggestion to you is to find a Buyer's Agent you feel comfortable with (it sounds like the other agent is trying to become one for you without offending you) and sign a Buyer Agency Agreement. In Tennessee, Realtors are required by law to let you know you can have full representation by a Buyer's Agent if you are purchasing real estate. You do not have to agree to be represented; however, if you choose otherwise (thinking you won't have to pay more commission), you may be in for a real awakening. As a professional, I could give you many more reasons to have "full representation" in a real estate transaction. It shouldn't cost you anything, since the Seller's signed a written commission agreement with the Listing Agent as they listed the home.

Most Realtors work together with other Realtors to better serve both Buyers and Sellers for a split commission that has already been negotiated with the Seller by the Listing Agent. Most companies use the MLS split and ensures "cooperating compensation" (cc) between companies or a Seller's Agent and a Buyer's Agent. Realtors realize that most of their listed homes are sold not by themselves but another agent either from their own company or another company. So, when commission rates are set, we generally factor into our net amount the estimate of the cc. As a Seller's Agent, a Realtor is, by law, required to "be loyal to the Clients interests by placing those interests before all others in negotiation of a real estate transaction and in other activities ...". This in essence, means cooperating with another Broker in splitting the commission. Yes, this does mean that the Listing Realtor won't make as much as he or she would if a Buyer's Agent wasn't involved, but we are each other's lifeline. And most of us are trustworthy, hardworking and ethical Realtors who believe that working together will make our profession a more reputable one and make our business more lucrative over time. Consequently, a Seller's Agent is just that; they are bound to their Seller and don't have to give you any information that could be beneficial or helpful to you.

A Buyer's Agent will represent you and guide you throughout the entire transaction, in most cases for free. If I were you, I would find one (maybe the one who has been carefully trying to educate you about the process) as soon as possible.

Mary Kidwell
The Real Estate Market
0 votes
Kelly Gebler, Agent, Portland, OR
Thu Feb 5, 2009
Hello one more time Jenerra! You've asked some great questions and I just finished answering the other two. Linda gave you a good answer when she said that you aren't obligated to any Realtor unless you've signed a Buyer's Agreement with them. The fact that another Realtor from the same firm returned your call rather than the listing agent is a fairly common practice...there are many listing agents who prefer to solely represent the seller so will have another team member handle all buyer calls. As I mentioned in one of the other answers I gave you - I am one of a 3 member team...many times I will have one of my teammates return buyer's calls on my listings just to make sure that everyone has their own Realtor and best interests in mind. Lots of steps and timelines to follow from start to finish and you want to make sure you are working with someone that can guide and educate you through all of them so that everything goes smoothly. And since it doesn't cost you anything to have your own Buyer's Agent - it's to your benefit to take advantage of using one. Any one of my team would love to offer our services to help - just give us a call or send an email and let us know what we can do.

Kelly Gebler
Real Estate Broker & Residential/Commercial Loan Officer
Commonwealth Real Estate Co. & Sunset Mortgage Co.
Ph: 503-516-1637
Email: LetUsGuideYouHome@comcast.net
0 votes
Linda Heinri…, Agent, Lake Oswego, OR
Thu Feb 5, 2009
Well the short answer is that unless you have a buyers agreement with the broker she is sol.

Are you making an unrepresented offer to save money? Has the listing broker explained how Agency representation works? Would you allow her to make the same offer you would make on your own? What if she put together stats to support a lower offer? What if during the course of research she discovered deed restrictions or other issues that would impact the value of this home? Would you still want to be unrepresented?

I am guessing that you want to submit the offer without a real estate broker to save money and while I cannot say this does not happen. What I do know s that the level of expertise a professional provides is in all instances worth the value. No one likes to shell out $350 an hour to an attorney or pay 1-2% points to the mortgage broker, but when a lot of money is involved like a home, then you are generally better served having someone who has a vested interest in your sucess.

Good luck!
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