A Limited Dual Agency agreement is designed to protect clients who are both the seller and the buyer. In this scenario, the Real Estate agent sells the clients’ home and helps them buy a new one. The agreement works well when clients are represented by an ethical realtor who puts the needs of the client first.
Unfortunately, not all realtors are created equal and some will use the Dual Agency Agreement for monetary gain above and beyond what is deemed professional. Measures to correct this kind of abuse are needed. However, the realtors who abuse Limited Dual Agency agreements are in the minority. The sweeping changes proposed by Premier Christy Clark to remove self-regulation from the Real Estate Industry in BC, while aimed at correcting infractions performed by the minority, will affect the majority.
It is important to have the right information. Clients can protect themselves by asking questions to determine if a particular realtor and real estate firm is right for them. Ask:
How long have you been in the real estate business?
The standard joke is there's nothing wrong with a new agent that a little experience won't fix. But that's not to say that freshly licensed agents aren't valuable. Much depends on whether they have access to competent mentors and the level of their training. Newer agents tend to have more time to concentrate on you. Some agents with 20 years of experience repeat their first year over and over. Other 20-year agents learn something new every year.
What is your best marketing plan or strategy for my needs?
As a buyer, you will need to know:
- How will you search for my new home?
- How many homes will I likely see before I find a home I want to buy?
- Will I be competing against other buyers?
- How do you handle multiple offers?
- Do you present offers yourself?
As a seller, you will need to know:
- Specifically, how will you sell my home?
- Where and how often do you advertise?
- Will you show me a sample flyer?
- How do you market online?
Ask to see references
Ask if any of the individuals providing references are related to the agent. Ask if you can call the references with additional questions. It is important to note that if an agent has tons of reviews online, you may not need references.
What are the top three things that separate you from your competition?
Good agents won't hesitate to answer this question and will be ready to fire off why they are best suited for the job. Everyone has their own standards, but most consumers say they are looking for agents who say they are:
- Honest and trustworthy
- Excellent negotiators
- Available by phone or e-mail
- Good communicators
- Able to maintain a good sense of humour under trying circumstances
May I review documents beforehand that I will be asked to sign?
A sign of a good real estate agent is a professional who makes forms available to you for preview before you are required to sign them. If at all possible, ask for these documents upfront.
As a buyer, ask for copies of the following:
- Buyer's Broker Agreement (is it exclusive or non-exclusive?)
- Agency Disclosures
- Purchase Agreement
- Buyer Disclosures
As a seller, ask to see:
- Agency Disclosure
- Listing Agreement
- Seller Disclosures
How will you help me find other professionals?
Let real estate agents explain to you who they work with and why they chose these professionals. Your agent should be able to supply you with a written list of referring vendors such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors and title companies. Ask for an explanation if you see the term "affiliated" because it could mean that the agents’ and their broker are receiving compensation from one or all of vendors, and you could be paying a premium for the service.
How Much Do You Charge?
Don't ask if the fee is negotiable. All real estate fees are negotiable. Typically, real estate agents charge a percentage, from 1% to 4% to represent one side of a transaction: a seller or a buyer. Listing agents may charge, for example, 3.5% for themselves and another 3.5% for the buyer's agent, for a total of 7%. Generally, it’s 7% on the first $100,000 and 3.5% on the remainder of the sale price. The adage you get what you pay for tends to hold true in real estate.
What kind of guarantee do you offer?
If you sign a listing or buying agreement with the agent and later find that you are unhappy with the arrangement, will the agent let you cancel the agreement? Will agents stand behind their service to you? What is the company's policy about cancelled agreements? Has anybody ever cancelled an agreement with the agent you are talking to?
What haven't I asked You that I need to know?
Pay close attention to how the real estate agent answers this question because there is often something else you may need to know. You want agents to take their time with you, to make sure you feel comfortable and secure with their knowledge and experience. They should know how to listen and how to counsel you, how to ask the right questions to find out what they need to know to better serve you.
Knowledge is powerful. Good agents want you to feel comfortable and ready to move forward with your home sale or purchase so it is in their best interests to provide you with the information you need to make an informed choice.