Most consumers know that if they want to have a real estate broker/agent sell their home and represent their interests, they must sign a contract. The listing contract clearly spells out the terms of the agreement including length of time, compensation and each party’s responsibility.
While buyer agency is not a new concept – it has been legal in MA for more than a decade and a half and a few years ago the law that governs agency relationships was updated to further ensure consumer protection, many buyers and some agents still don’t understand the benefits of a written Buyer Agency Agreement/contract.
Buyers often call me to ask for help finding a home and many tell me they have had disappointing experiences with "their buyer agent." When I ask if they had a contract with the agent, the answer is almost always the same: "we didn't have anything in writing..." Well, of course they are disappointed; how did the agent know what the buyer expect from each other? And were the buyer's expectations realistic?
The benefit of a contract is that both the buyer and the agent know what to expect and that each is accountable for what they say and do. The buyer knows which geographic areas the agent covers, they know how the agent is going to be compensated, and that the agent is legally obligated to act in the buyer’s best interest.
Buying a home is a process not an event - there is a lot more involved than finding a picture on the internet or going to open houses to "look." Successful negotiations are based on trust, confidentiality, and mutual respect. Buyers, you are entitled to have a qualified broker/agent on your side to ensure you get the representation you deserve and a written agreement is the first step.
While any agent can call themselves a buyer's agent, an ABR, Accredited Buyer's Representative has additional training and is part of a network that continues to provide education and new tools for representing buyers.
Before you start looking for a house find a qualified buyer agent/broker who will listen to you and respect your needs; one who knows the market in the area, knows how to negotiate, has a network of resources - lenders, home inspectors, attorneys, movers, etc.; and who will educate you so you can make the best decisions about your new home. Real estate is about relationships so make sure you have an agent who knows and cares about your well-being.
About the author: Marilyn Messenger is licensed broker, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), and an Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR) associated with Andrew Mitchell and Company, Concord MA. She has been representing buyers and sellers in Wayland, Sudbury, Maynard, Stow, and the towns west of Boston since 1993. Visit http://www.marilynmessenger.com/ to search MLS and get the latest informaton about real estate and buying a home.