What paperwork is necessary between buyer and realtor before the physical home search begins? Is there a?

Asked by Ann, Hendersonville, NC Sun Oct 19, 2008

written agreement, or just verbal?

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Kyle Kissmann, , Flat Rock, NC
Thu Jun 4, 2009
from the perspective of someone that bought their first home last october I'd say this... no paperwork is required and I disagree with the agents that say signing something will have the agent focus more on you. look, the bigger the commission (i.e. the more you are willing to spend on a house) the more willing they are to help. We worked with two agents and every house that had what we liked, I found through trulia and other internet searches. We (my wife and I) went out on weekends and drove around areas we wanted to live and looked for realty and fsbo signs. The house we ended up purchasing, I found while I was working one day. Don't let them fool you, the agent cares about the commission and if your budget is 250k or less, they will do the generic searches and little to no research.
1 vote
Kyle- Your experience does not sound typical of those working with a Realtor. There is NO WAY the public can find a house as good as a professional Realtor. Realtors have access to information that the general public does not. Realtors have training in sales and knowledge of all real estate laws. You may THINK you got a great deal on your house yourself, but the truth is you are lucky you didn't purchase a house with a clouded title, overpay, or buy something defective. You could have lost your entire life savings by thinking you know it all. Buyers should ALWAYS use a Realtor because they are FREE. There is absolutely no fee for a buyer to use an agent. Unless you are like Kyle and think you know everything!
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Rowena Patton, Agent, Asheville, NC
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Hi Ann, the responses re the working with real estate agents brochure is of course correct. If you want someone to do the best job in your search, it can be good to meet them and check you like them (;-) and then make an agreement with them that they will be your agent. Generally, you will find someone does a much better job and it most often costs you nothing. You can choose on the agreement that the seller rewards your agent through the listing commission, which is the most common situation in a house sale. Obviously, if you are prepared to commit to your agent, they are much more likely to commit to you. I'm a personal believer in the buyer agency agreement - if everyone had them Realtors would likely do a better job all round. The hot link below is for a foreclosure and short sale search
1 vote
Larry Story, Agent, Greensboro, NC
Thu Oct 23, 2008
Actually David is correct. The only required is the Working with Real Estate Agents brouchure. This is a state mandated notification that ALL agents/brokers must do on "first substantial contact" with a prospective client. The pamphlet does not obligate you to anything but, it simply explains North Carolina real estate relationships. Every state controls their own real estate rules. So the North Carolina Real Estate Commission published this pamphlet in order to inform the consumer of how in North Carolina we govern the relationships between the buyer, the seller, and the agents.

Some agents do require an buyers agency agreement before working with you but, many (such as myself) do not. So I recommend you interview several agents for the position of helping you find a home. Remember interview them just like this is for a very important job (which it is). Ask them how they are going to search for your new home? How are they going to communicate with you? What services do they offer for you to be able to search online? Can you get MLS access so that you can search the entire area, all listings without leaving the comfort of your home or wasting gas? Are they going to show you all available homes or just the ones listed by them or their company? What services do they provide to their buyers?

These are just some questions but, you get the idea.

Hope this helps,
1 vote
., , Advance, NC
Wed Oct 22, 2008
The rule form the North Carolina Real Estate Commission Requires any Licensed Real Estate Professional provide you with a “Working with Real estate Agents” pamphlet. It can be photocopied or scanned but the text of the pamphlet must be given to you a first substantial contact. The pamphlet also has a place for you to sign saying you have it explained to you. The agent is to also explain what type of agent he will be in your transaction Buyers Agent, Sellers Agent, Sellers Agent Working With Buyer, or Dual Agent. It is not a contract, but the agent must retain a copy of your signature in his or her records. After this pamphlet has been explained to you, the agent can then do a physical home search. The agent may choose to have you sign a buyers agency agreement before you start looking. The agent is required to have a buyers agency before writing an offer. I have copied a link to Working with Real Estate Agents below.
Here is a link to a PDF file of the form http://www.ncrec.state.nc.us/pdf/brochures/WorkingwAgents-9x20.pdf
Web Reference:  http://www.searchncmls.com
1 vote
Kari Battagl…, Agent, Venice, FL
Sun Oct 19, 2008

There is no required paperwork needed between buyer and realtor before the physical home search begins. But if you ask some Realtors who have been in real estate for a while you hear stories about how they wished they did have their buyers sign an buyers agency agreement. Just like the listing agreement, the buyers agreement spells out the responsibilites of both the Realtor and buyer. What could happen is that an agent will be working with a buyer who has emailed listings to customers, called other agents on behalf of the buyers to determine availability of properties and to schedule appointments, drive the buyers from one neighborhood to another possibly for months and then one day get a call from the buyer and they found a wonderful subdivision and the new home of their dreams and they just signed a contract with the buider. From the agent's perspective this is not good news as they have spent valuable time and money with this buyer with the expectations of payment for services upon the purchase of a home and I am sure most buyers don't even realize what has just happened. Not many agents like to work for free and I am sure no one else does either. Should you sign an exclusive agreement? Many buyers are uneasy about signing any agreements now a day but you can take steps to protect yourself should the arrangement not work your in best interest; ask for a short term agreement, ask for guarantees (make it a two way street), specify terms of purchase and price range and request a non exclusive agreement that protects the agent for procuring cause but does leaves you free to search for homes with other agents.
1 vote
Lori Jeltema, Agent, Suffolk, VA
Sun Oct 19, 2008
Ann, it depends on who the Realtor works for. If you are hiring an agent, you will want a form, signed by both of you, that states that the agent is working for you. Each area also has it's standard disclosures. They are mainly informative documents outlining things that you should be researching before your purchase. A lot of buyers mistakenly think that a seller has to disclose everything that's wrong with the house they are selling. Actually, it's pretty much the opposite. It is up to you, the buyer to find out what you need to know about the home. From the hvac operability to the local sex offender, the buyer must beware. You need to read over these disclosures that pertain to your specific area so you know what to expect. Don't buy a home, move into it, and discover that the heater hasn't worked since last winter and think that you can go back and sue the seller for not telling you. Unless you asked and the seller lied, it's just not their responsibility.

You agent will likely want you to sign a retainer agreement. This is a contract between you and the agent outlining your responsibilities. You both may want to get to know each other before signing a long term commitment. I like retainer agreements (of course:). Truth be told, I may spend months (or a year in a few cases) helping a buyer find the right home. I want to get paid for my efforts. It should make a buyer feel better signing the agreement for a few reasons. Say you do not sign with an agent and you decided that you are going to just visit open houses and view homes with agents on an individual basis.. you are seeing a few homes at a time with agents who have no idea if they will ever earn an income from it. I think that, when you have an agreement with an agent and they know that they are going to be compensated for their work, you end up with better service. I'm not going to push someone into buying a home because it's my only chance at making a commission. If an agent thinks that they only have two days to drive you around before you slide over to someone else, do you think that they are going to want you to take your time in deciding what you want? What if you do find a house but need to get out of the contract later or fall in love with another home that you saw with another agent? Now you need agent #1 to get you out of this contract so you can buy a house with #2. Make sure that the deal is not more important to them than it is to you. Even if I'm several weeks into a deal and have spent a lot of hours on it, if my client wants out, I'll use whatever means contractually available to get them out. I won't push them into staying with a deal that they are feeling sick about because I know they have hired me, my commission is safe, and I'll earn it on the next deal.

Pertaining to the VERBAL part, if your agent has implied by their actions that they represent you, then they represent you! Of course, it's very hard to prove a 'he said/she said' scenario. If you are working with an agent that does not represent you, but the seller - don't get angry with them if they don't get you the best deal. That's not their job. Just because you are getting along with the agent, doesn't mean they represent you. Get it in writing! If you even have to wonder if they represent you, you either need to hire yourself someone else or get it in writing before you make another move.

Hope this wasn't too long! ........rules differ from state to state so double check your area. Good luck :)
1 vote
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Sat Feb 23, 2013
Dear Ann,
We do have paperwork to give to your buyers, and many things to discuss before starting to work with a buyer client. I often go over the purchase contracts and disclosure they will be likely to see during the process. There is also the standard business buyer/broker agreement to discuss and sign.
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