At the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), buyer representation agreements are viewed as a crucial tool for establishing mutual expectations, preventing misunderstandings, and instilling loyalty between agents and their buyer-clients.
To help brokers gain insights from agents in other markets, I wanted to share some feedback we received from ABR® designees in our annual membership survey, as well as related perspectives.
Support and Reluctance
The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation course strongly encourages the use of written agreements, and most of our members concur. Our latest survey found that 59% of members always formalize their working relationship with a buyer’s agreement, while 22% said “sometimes,” and 19% never use them.
Among those who do not use buyer agreements consistently, respondents told us that various issues stand in their way (multiple replies allowed):
– I’d rather remain flexible and make this decision on a case-by-case basis – 49%
– I prefer working on a trust basis with all buyer-clients – 32%
0 I’m concerned that buyers will use another agent who doesn’t require a signed agreement – 15%
– I don’t feel confident persuading buyers to sign one – 13%
– Other – 24%
Admittedly, getting agreements signed can feel like walking a tightrope. As one respondent commented, “If I ask them to sign right away, they may not be confident in my skills. If I wait too long, they may feel insulted.” Successfully threading the needle requires training and practice.
The benefits, however, can be substantial. Agents who have mastered the buyer representation agreement also tend to have a solid handle on their responsibilities—what is on and off the table when working with buyers—and excel at cementing solid client relationships.
Fair Housing Considerations
Agents who prefer discretion in deciding when and how to use buyer representation agreements should be reminded that flexibility can invite fair housing violations.
The 2019 Newsday investigation drove this point home—that any prerequisite to providing services, including the use of a buyer representation agreement, should be applied consistently and objectively. For risk management purposes, it may be advisable to review your office policies and discuss these considerations with your agents.
Boosting Agents’ Confidence
Learning how to use buyer agreements consistently and confidently is a distinct skill that the ABR® designation course addresses comprehensively, along with many other best practices when representing buyers. If your agents would benefit from honing their buyer representation skills, consider supporting their efforts to earn the ABR® designation. To learn more, visit abr.realtor.
Jennifer Rzeszewski is the vice president of Member Development and the executive director overseeing the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), the largest association of professionals focused on representing buyers. REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation. Learn more at abr.realtor.