Do I Need a Realtor to Buy a Home?
What it means to be unrepresented
Written By: Mariko Baerg, REALTOR of Bridgewell Real Estate Group
If you’re looking for a realtor to help you purchase a property, call me today!
When purchasing a property you may ask yourself: Do I need a realtor? While there is no legal requirement to use a realtor, it’s important to know the risks of being unrepresented so you can make an educated decision on whether you want to buy on your own or with help.
This blog will help you understand the difference in working with a realtor (client relationship) and not working with a realtor (unrepresented party).
We also go through the services you can expect with a realtor to help you decide whether it is something you feel you need.
“Do I need a realtor?”
More than 80% of buyers use a realtor to help them purchase a home, but some people wonder whether they can – or should – buy real estate without using a realtor. Therefore, we often get asked the question: Do I need a realtor?
If you are working with a realtor exclusively, then you will likely be in a client relationship. This means that the realtor is in a working relationship with only you at any given transaction (and not with the seller), and that they owe you a fiduciary duty and loyalty.
While there is no legal requirement that you use a real estate agent to help you buy a home, it is important to understand what a realtor does when both buying and selling property as well as what being unrepresented in a real estate transaction truly entails.
CLIENT VS. UNREPRESENTED: What it means to buy as an unrepresented buyer
If you are considering purchasing a home without a realtor, make sure you know what it truly means to be an unrepresented party. If you are relying on the seller’s agent or developer’s sales staff to assist you through the transaction, just keep in mind that they work with the seller and NOT for you. So what does this mean?
If you choose to be an unrepresented party it means you will receive the following from the seller’s agent:
No loyalty – The agent has no loyalty to you, they must put their client’s (the seller) best interest first. They represent client’s with opposing interests to yours, and have no duty to look after or consider your best interests.
No duty to avoid conflict of interests – No real estate professional is acting in your interest.
No full disclosure – The real estate professional representing the seller does not have a duty to provide you full disclosure or relevant information pertaining to your interest in the property. You may not be told the full story, and they are not obligated to consider questions you may want to ask but not think of.
No confidentiality – Any information you share with the professional (i.e. your motivation, ceiling price, personal information) can be shared with the opposing side and used against your favour in negotiations.
As per the Disclosure of Representation document, being in a client relationship and unrepresented relationship with a realtor are exact opposites. If you were to work with a buyer’s agent rather than being unrepresented or purchasing with the listing realtor, you would be provided loyalty, duty to avoid conflicts of interest, duty to fully disclose all relevant information, and confidentiality.
Can I buy a home with the listing agent? What is limited dual agency?
Limited dual agency means that one agent (usually the listing agent) represents both the seller and the buyer as clients. In British Columbia, limited dual agency is mostly banned with the exception of very few cases. (i.e. rural areas with no option of another realtor)
The real estate council has banned this because a CLIENT relationship means that the realtor would avoid conflicts of interest. However, if you represent the seller – who wants the highest price – and the buyer – who wants the lowest price – then this is a clear conflict of interest .
Therefore, if you plan on purchasing through the listing agent then that means you will likely be an UNREPRESENTED party. As per the points above, this means that the listing agent can only give you limited assistance and is bound to protecting the best interests of their client (the seller) and loyalty to them.
It is important to keep in mind that the listing agent can provide you with the standard contract, but they CANNOT advise you what to put in the contract in terms of price, dates, terms, clauses or conditions. Therefore, if you are planning on being an unrepresented party it is recommended that you are very familiar with real estate contracts and what terms to include.
What does a buyer’s agent do?
Making the decision on whether or not you need a realtor to help you buy a home can be aided by knowing what to expect in terms of services from a realtor.
Some of the services you can obtain from a buyer’s agent that you may have difficulty completing/obtaining yourself are:
- Provide comparable sales and active properties to best determine market value of a property to help you avoid overpaying
- Provide sales data, market graphs & history on a property and area
- Pull property profiles reflecting property data, demographics, amenities, and neighbourhood services
- Review of documents that you may be unfamiliar with. Including but not limited to: strata documents, depreciation reports, disclosure statements, property disclosure statement, title search, and tax roll
- Negotiating best price and sale conditions while providing a buffer between you and the seller’s agent
- Recommend services and a network of professionals that will help throughout the transaction
- Help facilitate from accepted offer to the possession date to avoid any issues
- Draft and prepare a legal contract of purchase and sale, ensure all documentation up to closing is prepared properly
Ultimately, a buyer’s agent is there to make sure that you are safe and protected when purchasing a home. They will be there from start to finish to help you with everything from choosing the right neighbourhood and home, to writing an offer, to handing you the keys to your new home!
Does it cost money to hire a realtor when buying a home?
No, there is no fee incurred by the buyer to hire a realtor when buying a home. (at least with Bridgewell!)
In the listing contract determined by the Seller and Seller’s Agent/Brokerage at the time of putting the home up for sale, the gross commission is pre-determined and agreed upon. The gross commission is split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, which means that the Seller is the one that pays the Buyer’s agent commission.
Therefore, hiring a buyer’s agent is a FREE service for the home buyer!
If you’re looking to purchase a property and would like guidance on how to get the ball rolling, then give us a call. We’re happy to walk you through the process and show you the added value we provide our clients. Start a conversation by calling 604-765-0376. Prefer text? 604-319-0200 or email [email protected]. We’re here to help.
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