Buyer Agency Agreements

[photopress:dog.jpg,full,alignright] Is there a difference between dogs and cats? When you take out a leash, a dog usually gets all happy because he knows he is going to go outside. When a cat sees a leash he usually has the opposite reaction (some exceptions, of course) and says, no way I am going to be LED anywhere!

So what do dogs and cats and leashes have to do with consumers signing contracts?

For many years, agents have insisted that the seller sign a contract for their services, and by and large sellers have been happy to do so. I have never had a seller say, “Can’t you just do what you do, without my needing to sign a contract?”.

A seller is more like a dog than a cat, and a contract is somewhat like a leash. Most dogs are more than happy to be on a leash, as long as the guy at the other end of the leash, keeps pace with WHAT THE DOG wants to do.

The reason it is not possible to represent a seller client without a contract, is because of the “3rd party” promise to pay. The seller via that contract and the seller’s broker, agree to pay the agents who show the property. Say I list a house at $500,000 and the “seller” offers 3% “in the mls” to the Buyer’s Agent. That’s $15,000. While it may appear on the outside that the seller is offering that money to the Buyer Agent in the MLS, he isn’t. The buyer agent is an unknown person and the buyer is an unknown person, at the time the property is entered into the mls. The seller is not putting anything in the mls, the seller’s agent is putting it in the mls and promising to pay the buyer’s agent. The agent would actually have to cough up that $15,000 from his own personal funds, if he didn’t have a contract signed by the seller at the time he put the “offering” in the mls. That’s a little too much to ask of anyone on a handshake, so a contract is required from the seller.

Back to sellers are dogs and buyers are cats. The seller has a known address to the “product”/the house. It is easy to get a list of “services and metres” specific to that house. Does it need some staging? Is it photo ready? Can we get 15 photos quickly after it is staged and edit and upload them…on and on. Specific defined things after viewing the product/house, based on that house’s strengths and weakneses. Pretty simple stuff to calculate from day one, for the most part.

Buyers on the other hand are cats. They do not know “the address” of the property at the outset. They sometimes do not know for certain whether they will be buying a brand new townhome (not as much work for the agent) or a single family home built in 1910 (lots more work for the agent). They sometimes don’t know if they are going to buy in Renton or in Juanita or in Greenwood. Sometimes they need to see some property before making some of these decisions.

So a buyer needs to roam freely a bit, without a leash, more like a cat, to gather the information needed to come to an informed decision regarding type of property, general location of property and ballpark price of property. A buyer may need to see property with an agent in Renton, a different agent in Juanita and a third agent in Greenwood, before having enough information to hire the right agent for their needs. Anyone who has been in this business for awhile, knows that they are sometimes a stepping stone, in a buyer’s journey to an informed choice.

The absolute worst thing that can happen in this country, IMNSHO, is for buyers to be required to sign a contract, just to SEE a house. First of all it is demeaning, and lacks the respect and understanding of the industry, and its differences. It’s trying to put a leash on a cat, and pretending the cat is a dog.