Do You Even Have An Agent?

I am amazed at how often buyers don’t know if they have signed a contract with an agent. Is “their” agent actually representing them? Most buyers will say they don’t remember signing any papers like that.  I know that there are a whole huge pile of papers to sign when writing an offer, but it really matters what you sign.

The thing is – in Maryland, we agents have only two choices. When we write an offer, we must represent either the seller or the buyer. One or the other. No weaseling. And we have to make that clear to both parties in the offer. In writing.

Let’s be very clear about this. I can show you a house, write up your offer and never meet the seller. But if you don’t agree to hire me to represent you, I must represent the seller. I have no choice. It’s Maryland law. And it’s totally your choice who I represent.

So do you think it would matter to you, in writing an offer, if I was actually representing the other side? What if you said to me that you wanted to offer $200,000 but that you would actually pay up to $225,000? Do you think it matters who I represent?

If I’m representing you, I have to keep the knowledge that you’d pay up to $225,000 to myself. Can’t share it with anyone. However, if I’m representing the seller while helping you write your offer – the whole game changes. Now I MUST tell the seller that you would pay up to $225,000.

Don’t you want to know this before you start your negotiations? Talk to your agent about who he is representing, make sure you understand it and get it in writing.

© 2011 Susan Pruden.

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2 Responses to Do You Even Have An Agent?

  1. I’m a little more cynical about this than you.

    Many times, I’ll ask, “Are you working with a Realtor?” and the first words out of the potential client’s mouth is, “I never signed anything.” This means they either signed something and want to deny it or they’ve been hopping from Realtor to Realtor.

    The Buyer Representation Agreement, Buyer’s Broker Agreement or whatever you want to call it isn’t that big. It typically is not mixed in with the 40+ pages of an offer and, even if it is, by the time you’re writing an offer you should be wanting that the Realtor sitting in front of you will represent your interests.

    What’s my point? Most buyers know whether they’ve signed a Buyer’s Broker Agreement or not. They may not want to admit it. But the know (and they should have a copy, BTW).

    Your larger point about having the buyer’s interest represented faithfully and in confidence is right on the money. If I don’t have a written agreement and you let me know you have a million dollars in the bank, it’s really not our little secret.
    Ken Montville recently posted..Will Housing In The MD Suburbs Ever Recover

    • susanpruden says:

      Well, actually we are equally cynical. I’m specifically talking about buyers who are genuinely confused. All of my buyers know that they have a contract with me. We go over it and are very clear. I’m really talking about those buyers whose agent either just stuck it in front of them along with everything else and said “sign” or never had the buyer sign one to begin with.

      Based on the number of agents who send me a copy of their Buyer Representation Agreement along with the offer – and how badly many of them are filled out – I’m guessing that there are a lot of agents out there who are just as clueless as their buyers. Bad combination all the way around.

      My broader point is, don’t assume your agent is representing you – take it upon yourself, Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, to ask if you’re not sure.

      Or better still, hire a Susan Pruden (or even that guy Ken Montville) to represent you and you won’t have to wonder!

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