Do I Have to Sign a Buyer Representation Agreement Before Looking at Homes?

When you’re embarking on the exciting journey of buying a home, you’ll likely encounter various real estate agreements and paperwork. One such document is the Buyer’s Representation Agreement. But what exactly is it, and do you really need to sign one before you start touring homes? Let’s dive into the details.

Do I Have to Sign a Buyer Representation Agreement Before Looking at Homes?

Understanding the Role of Buyer’s Representation Agreements

Understanding the role of Buyer’s Representation Agreements can make all the difference in your home journey.  Picture this: you're ready to dive into the real estate market and find.a home, but you're not quite sure where to start.  That's where a buyer's agent comes in and the execution of a Buyer’s Representation Agreement allows an agent to work on your behalf.  By signing this agreement with the agent you have chosen to represent you, you're enlisting the expertise of a dedicated real estate professional who's committed to representing your best interests every step of the way.  From scouring listings to negotiating offers, they're your advocate, ensuring you find not just a house, but your perfect Texas home sweet home.  So, whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned investor, the benefits are endless to using an educated and experienced agent to represent you in buying a home with confidence and clarity.

Fun Fact:  In 2023, 41% of home buyers start their search by looking online for properties according to the National Association of REALTORS

What Is a Buyer’s Representation Agreement?

A Buyer’s Representation Agreement is a contract between you (the buyer) and a real estate brokerage with an agent empowered to represent your interests.  It outlines the terms of your working relationship, including the agent’s responsibilities, the duration of the agreement, and any geographical boundaries for their representation.  While these agreements are negotiable, they serve several essential purposes:

  1. Establish Representation:  These Buyers Representation agreements are not between you and an agent, they are between you and the brokerage that the agent you select works with.  Too many times people think that agents create these documents and are in full control.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  The brokerage your selected buyer's agent works with is with whom you are contracting.

  2. Setting Expectations:  By formalizing the agreement upfront, both parties understand their roles and responsibilities.  It prevents agents from investing time in buyers who might ultimately choose another brokerage or agent to represent them.

  3. Geographical Boundaries:  The agreement may specify the region where the agent will work for you.  This ensures continuity if you decide to explore properties beyond a specific area.

  4. Payment for Services Rendered:  The agreement also establishes how much the brokerage will be paid for the services that are rendered on your behalf and who is responsible for payment.  It is a common misconception that buyers are contracting with an agent when in fact they are contracting with the brokerage, the broker of record who is responsible for the brokerage services, and the agent to be their lead point of contact.

Fact:  In 2023, 59% of recent buyers signed a representation  agreement according to the National Association of REALTORS

Do You Have to Sign a Buyer’s Representation Agreement?

The short answer: Yes, you absolutely and unequivocally now have to sign one.  In accordance with new National Association of REALTORS changes, any and all home buyers must sign a buyer representation agreement before seeing one home.  In addition, should you want to visit an open house that is being held by someone other than the listing agent, you too will have to sign an agreement with that agent probably covering just that home should you decide to purchase it.  Long gone are the days that as a consumer, it’s your right to choose whether or not to enter into an exclusive agreement with a buyer’s agent and when during the process you want to sign such an agreement. 

How Signing a Buyer Representation Agreement Can Benefit You:

Let's explore some compelling reasons why a buyer representation agreement can benefit you:

  • Priority:  Buyers with an agency agreement receive top priority.  Your agent will focus on your needs and won’t represent the seller.  In fact, did you know that without a signed buyer representation agreement, an agent is an agent of the seller?  It's true.
  • Representation:  Being represented affords you a whole host of rights and duties that are owed to you by your agent.  You are not only being provided a service, you are receiving agency duties afforded to you by your representation agreement.  These duties include: obedience, loyalty, disclosure, accounting, and reasonable care.  Yes, these duties are outlined in the real estate agency law that your agent has to follow and each are powerful duties that your agent owes you through representation.
  • Fiduciary:  You have a fiduciary who is going to represent your best interests, who is going to be scrupulous and meticulous in representing you and put your interests above all else.

There is actual power in being represented and what an agent does for their client far outweighs any possible outcome of not working with an agent.  I certainly do not want to provide you with a real estate 101 course here, however, I am happy to speak with you at any time if you would like to discuss this further.

Fact:  In 2023, 71% of buyers interviewed only one real estate agent during their home search according to the National Association of REALTORS

The Importance of an Interested Home Buyer Meeting

Before you start touring homes, consider having an interested home buyer meeting with a real estate agent. Here’s why:

  1. Budget Clarity:  Discuss your budget and obtain preapproval from a lender. Understand not only the mortgage amount but also your disposable income after accounting for other expenses.

  2. Establish Goals:  You will want to establish clear goals with your agent on what you are looking for, your timeline, and other parameters surrounding your personal situation.  Every transaction is different in real estate and that is expressly because every buyer and every buyer situation is different - it's based on the uniqueness of each of us.

  3. Realistic Timeline:  Unlike TV shows where homes are found in 30 minutes, the real process takes time. Expect several months if not six months or longer of collaboration with your agent.  Hopefully, the bond you build with your agent will be strong and transcend beyond closing on your home.  At the same time, you will become fast and furious friends as you work together to find you what you are looking for.
  4. Educated Decision-Making:  Armed with online research, buyers now enter the process more informed. However, your agent’s knowledge and expertise remain invaluable.  There is no way that a buyer could learn all of the knowledge that their agent has in a short time frame and truly benefit them in their home buying journey.  Agents spend years honing their craft and it is the continual practice of representing clients that makes agents really good at their job.  In essence, you spend time doing what makes you the money to purchase the home and let your representative do their job and represent you.

While you might think you weren't obligated to sign a Buyer’s Representation Agreement, hopefully you know better now and have been exposed to reasons why this is really a good thing for you and your home search journey.  I hope that you will trust me as your REALTOR to guide you through the process and remember that well-informed decisions lead to successful home purchases.

Remember, finding your dream home is a journey, not a sprint. Take the time to connect with an experienced agent, discuss your goals, and embark on this exciting adventure together! 🏡🔑

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