Working with a Real Estate Professional

It’s always a good idea to use a licensed real estate professional in your home search. When you interview real estate professionals you’re considering hiring, these are the kind of questions you should ask them:

  • how long have you been in the business?
  • do you have a job other than as a real estate professional?
  • how many buyers did you represent last year
  • what services will you provide to me?
  • what geographic areas do you serve?
  • do you specialize in certain property types?
  • how will you search for my new home?
  • how do you handle multiple offers?
  • how do you present my offer to the seller?
  • what are the top three things that separate you from your competition?
  • are you working as part of a team or will I always deal directly with you?
  • how do you get paid?
  • how much do you charge for your services?
  • will you work for me exclusively, not the seller?
  • how do you handle conflicts of interest?
  • will you do a property evaluation on the home I want to buy?
  • how do you keep me informed?
  • how many clients do you work with at any one time?

After you’ve chosen a real estate professional to work with, one of the first things they should show you is RECA’s Consumer Relationships Guide (Guide). The Guide is a mandatory document, which real estate professionals must provide to, and discuss with, consumers they’re working with.

The Guide will help you understand your legal relationship with your real estate professional, and explains the three types of relationships you could have with your real estate professional:

1)      An entire real estate brokerage can act as your agent. This is a common law agency relationship and means you have a relationship with all of the brokerage’s real estate professionals.

2)     An individual real estate professional (or team of professionals) can act as your agent. This is a designated agency relationship.

3)     You can be the customer of a real estate professional. You do not have an agency relationship with anyone at the brokerage; they are not acting as your agent.

The Guide explains the three relationships in more details, including what responsibilities your professional will have to you in each. Your real estate professional will ask you to sign an acknowledgement that you have read the Guide, discussed it with them, and received satisfactory answers to your questions.

If you decide to enter into a client relationship with your real estate professional, they will ask you to sign a written service agreement. Written service agreements are required in Alberta when you’re a client of a residential real estate professional.

Written service agreements help real estate professionals clearly and confidently communicate with their clients about:

  • the relationship between the parties
  • the services to be provided by the brokerage
  • the obligations and responsibilities of the parties
  • consent for collection, use and distribution of personal information of the client
  • method of calculation of remuneration or how the industry professional will be compensated

You can negotiate the specific terms of the written service agreement you sign, and in fact, you should never sign an agreement that has terms you don’t agree with or don’t understand.

You can negotiate:

  • the duration of the agreement
  • whether it’s exclusive or non-exclusive (In an exclusive agreement, you agree to only use the services of that brokerage to represent you. In a non-exclusive agreement, you may use the services of multiple brokerages at the same time)
  • the remuneration (if any)
  • services to be provided
  • clauses for early termination of the agreement.

If your real estate professional promises certain services, include them in your written service agreement. Written service agreements provide an opportunity for you to ensure you’re getting the services you want, need, and expect from your real estate professional.