By Kenneth Laroza

I often have new agents ask me: when should I get a buyer representation agreement signed? When should I present it? I don’t want to seem pushy….

According to Ontario’s Real Estate Business Brokers Act, 2002, “If a brokerage enters into a buyer representation agreement with a buyer and the agreement is not in writing, the brokerage shall, before the buyer makes an offer, reduce the agreement to writing, have it signed on behalf of the brokerage and submit it for signature.”



1. Immediately – before doing any work/showings.

Choosing to present the BRA prior to doing any work has many benefits but can be problematic when dealing with potential clients who may be a bit more cautious when signing documents. The largest benefit is that by obtaining your forms, you protect your time and your efforts. The BRA forms ensure that should your client decide to work with someone else or find their own property, the hours/days/months you spent showing properties, driving around the city and doing research isn’t completely lost. Remember, you aren’t a volunteer, this is your profession.

The downside is that many consumers aren’t comfortable signing a contract with someone they just met and committing to someone before they know if they will work well together.

2. During or after showings/meetings.

This can be after one showing or a few days of showings. I like to refer to it like dating. It allows you to get to know each other before a document is signed.

Remember, the contract is a two-way street. Your client has duties to you, but you also have duties to them. Doing a bit of work prior to signing gives you the opportunity to test the working relationship.

The negative to this is that there is a potential for wasted time. Whether it was one hour of showings or five hours of showings, if the buyer decides to work with someone else, your time is not protected. It can be incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking but be strict with how much time you commit during this period.

3. After – just before an offer is signed.

Throughout my years in real estate, I have had this conversion with agents on several occasions:

Agent: I’ve been working with this client for the past six months, but they went to an open house this weekend and bought through the listing agent – aren’t I owed commission?

Me: Did you have a buyer rep signed?

Agent: No.

Me: Then no, unfortunately you aren’t owed anything.

Agent: [Expletive]

Waiting until just before an offer is signed makes the client feel the most comfortable but places you at the most risk. In this situation you place a lot of trust with your clients, hoping that they will work with you and not cut you out of the deal (on purpose or otherwise). If you’re not too concerned or feel that it’s worth the risk rather than losing the client due to coming across as too pushy, that’s your call.

Whichever way you choose is entirely up to you. My suggestion, though, is to be consistent. To create an efficient business, you should choose a method and stick to it. Spend the next few clients testing out each option, see how comfortable you feel and once you’ve decided which works best with you and your personality, make it your policy. By having something you follow with every client, you’re able to start focusing on other parts of your business rather than having to change for every person you meet.

32 COMMENTS

  1. At 1st meeting with clients, review the Working with Realtor form, read through with clients. Review BRA form ask for signatures. If the client is serious and they like you and trust you, they will sign.

  2. Always good to be reminded of the various options but I am often dismayed by the usual responses! Being solution oriented, I have created a simple method that works for both the Buyer and me. One that demonstrates my professionalism and my empathy for an unsure Buyer, that builds trust and insures I get paid for the work I do.

    On the initial call I ask the Buyer if they are working with another Agent. If ‘yes’ I tell them their Agent is the one they are paying so they should be the one doing the work.

    Sometimes the Buyer admits they really don’t have an Agent, they just want to see the property but not be tied to 1 Agent. I then explain how a Buyer Agency Agreement works and how I can tailor it to suit them.

    If they say ‘no’ they don’t have an Agent then I ask them if I show them the property and they wish to buy it will they be buying through me? If they say ‘no’, I say ‘sorry’, get the Agent you want to use to show you through. Since you will be paying them they should be doing the work for you. No time wasted.

    If they say ‘yes’ I say then let’s put that in writing. I then explain the BRA and that it will only be for this one property and they are free to work with whomever they choose after that. I send the BRA for signatures – and when it comes back I book the showing. I make the coverage for 6 months.

    I create and attach a Schedule ‘A’ . Where the BRA describes the property covered I write : as per Schedule ‘A’, which may be amended from time to time

    On Page 1 of Schedule ‘A’, I list all the properties I will be showing on that appointment. If the Buyer wants to see more properties, I fill out a Page 2 which lists the next properties I will show. The Buyer signs and dates each list before we proceed.

    After the second or third time they usually ask to just skip all the paperwork and sign up for me to represent them in a large geographical area. By then I know if I want to continue working with them and they obviously want to continue working with me. Contract is amended and we both win.

    • It’s proper to tell a buyer to have their Realtor show them the property, but if the property they want to see is your listing and unless they in fact have a written agreement in place with another brokerage, your fiduciary duty to your seller to market and promote their property is being delayed and possibly even compromised while you take care to first collect a client that will inherently place you in a conflict of interest.

      Buyers do have choices outside of using a Realtor to draft and submit an offer – a lawyer, themself – customer service works well, even an email statement from them saying that they do not have a written agreement in place with another brokerage. This in fact should be explained to them. Demanding a BRA to show them the property removes their options possibly to your seller client’s detriment.

  3. The Unicorns and Fairy Tales continue…..

    99% (or more) of Realtors are unqualified to complete the required due diligence a Buyer Agency Agreement legally binds them to preforming. The only reason they get away with doing it today is because REGULATORS have failed to inform the public of their full legal rights that come with signing a BAA.

    Never could understand a Professional Female Realtor asking someone to sign their BRA.

    The nonsense continues unabated!!!

  4. BRA documents are very interesting, and this agent got lucky. So many lawyers and even judges have not made a genuine effort at studying the topic of buyer brokerage. It might be worthwhile to have your would-be client initial the portion that explains how the agent will be paid, particularly if the buyer is agreeing to pay directly, in an effort to double-back to be sure they understand their end of the obligation as to review what they committed to.

    I was so blessed: I only had one would-be buyer waffle about signing because he had dozens of agents running around trying to fulfill his requests (unsuccessfully) for more than a year, and not one had even addressed the topic of buyer brokerage.

    I agreed to let him see how I worked and agreed to show him three houses he chose, using (misleading) MLS search properties provided to him by other agents. I felt terrible for the sellers as I booked those appointments because in a million years they didn’t match what they both had shared in their wish list. At the end of the third showing he signed the BRA (still reluctantly) on the trunk of my car. I told him to take it home and get his wife to sign it (ALWAYS get signatures of all who are your clients).

    He resented the BRA right from the get go. But “I” got him the deal of a lifetime. They will live there forever! And they wrote me a wonderful story that is on my “Carolyne’s Clients Speak” web page. But HE got calls, did he ever, from the agents who were trying to find him the perfect house. They didn’t, but were plenty upset that he agreed for me to represent him and reluctantly signed my BRA. And guess what. He signed for a “top-up,” that I always put in my BRA’s. It was about $2500 and on closing day he went to get his keys and forgot his chequebook. Lawyer would not give him keys until he went home and brought the adjustment cheque. (Not sure that would have got paid, but for the BRA addressed it.

    Typically once an Agreement of Purchase and a Sale has been agreed to, a copy of the agreement is forwarded to the related law offices along with invoices to be paid as part of the closing adjustments.

    Not all real estate offices enclose a copy of the signed (and initialled) BRA contract along with the invoice, regardless of the method by which the buyer office is to be paid. Folks, it HELPS the registering law office get you paid quickly!

    I really like the concept that Rui brought forward in our trading area in the early 90’s, before official buyer contracts were available, (we were still practising sub-agency) where his excellent idea was to insert into the offer white space that the buyer agent company would be paid directly by the law office of the seller (when the buyer was not paying directly, and that almost never happened in sub-agency).

    In another situation, I avoided what might have been a hassle claim for commission by so doing. No one at the listing brokerage apparently EVER read the agreement of purchase and sale contract submitted by the listing agent as a firm and binding contract (and the offer was presented in person with the listing agent at the table); he asked his sellers if they had any questions – they all never left the kitchen table, and typically the listing office invoiced the seller’s law office as would usually have been done, even so I had put in the white space that my corp would invoice the seller’s law office directly. Spelled out loud and clear with no opportunity to misunderstand.

    The only comment came from the listing agent saying he had never seen that done before but if the sellers were okay with it, fine by him. I only work with serious clients and you can bet it was an excellent offer. There was no sign back, no changes of any kind.

    And I was paid as per the white space insert that was not disputed by the listing agent or the seller at the time of the offer presentation.

    The listing office was paid “only” their designated portion, even so they had invoiced the seller’s law office for the gross commission plus appropriate taxes. (Abundantly clear no one in the listing office had read the offer contract; the trade record sheet had not been submitted properly, and the deal-processing Secty used the listing contract as always.)

    The seller’s law office honoured my corp invoice as referenced in the white space and agreed to buy the sellers. And supported by a copy of the relative BRA. Even so, I had got a call from the law office saying that perhaps there was a mistake? (Read the Agreement of Purchase and Sale contract and the supporting BRA.) They had done, but had never seen such contracts before,

    I had enclosed with my corp invoice to the seller’s law office, a (stamped “read-only”) copy of the signed offer, noted and highlighted in yellow marker, showing I would be paid direct by the seller (through seller’s law office where invoice was sent) as a closing adjustment (not paid as was typical at the time, through the listing office).

    I got a screaming cursing phone call from the franchise office manager telling me how I had messed up their accounting system and demanding I return my paycheque to the law office and permit the listing office to pay my share from their full payment from the law office the way business was always done. I remained calm and directed him to read the white space on the contract and my supporting BRA as had been sent to the seller’s law office. I did not invoice the listing office.

    There was word on the street that the listing brokerage was in financial difficulty and in danger of shutting down, but of course I had had no way to know if such was true and didn’t want to take a chance they would last a few months till closing date. Forever grateful that Rui had presented this then alternative method of invoicing.

    The listing brokerage had a screaming fit with their seller’s law office making all kinds of threats that the law office had underpaid their invoice when collecting and distributing the closing day commission.

    Sure enough, a few months later that listing office franchise did close. Who knows how many transactions were or were not paid. Maybe there was no financial difficulty, but I was able to circumvent what would have been a problem for me had I been entrapped in wait and see mode.

    I liked the concept Rui introduced but oddly the Board would not approve it for general use. I could never figure out why. So neat and tidy and simplified bookkeeping. I always thought it had something to do with how assets are addressed on real estate accounting balance sheets used when brokers borrowed money from their bank. Some used the gross commission as assets and not accounting for the liability of incoming buyer-offer offices billings.

    Not many bankers understand the real estate business. A high-level banker, long time business friend and client verified that for me; balance sheets didn’t mean much to bankers.

    Carolyne L 🍁

  5. Kenneth, thank you for this article. I have practiced using BRA’s since 1995 way before assumed Buyer Agency became practice in Manitoba and have always presented the agreement at the initial meeting when I met with the prospective clients and discussed their needs and wants and how I can help them achieve that. I found by doing it at the outset it ensured a clear understanding of our engagement. I have always presented it with the mindset which I truly believe that it is highly beneficial to the buyer as well as myself as all terms were laid out and agreed upon up front. I have had to to a “test run” a few times over the years where the buyer needed to see me in action so we would go out one time and see a representative number of homes and they can see what they would have on their side and then would then ask for their signature. If they chose not to engage my expertise after that, it was simply not meant to be. I learned early on in my almost 28 year career that I can not be everything to everybody. The use of a BRA is just like a listing agreement as it provides autorizations, agreements of compensation, terms and timelines that for such an important service as we provide should be in place before running house to house or writing any offer as by that time whatever expectations each party had can get foggy, diluted and is akin to winging it on a road trip without a map, just an idea of the route.

    • Well said, Jeff Stern! We’re “moving in that direction” in Saskatchewan, but there IS some resistance from some…

      • There will always be some resistance. All industries have their few who maintain the status quo. I have done a lot of speaking on the subject of incorporating BRA’s into business models. I just did another one a week and a half ago to a real estate board. I have 2 formats of a seminar I wrote: Buyer Agreements – 6 Steps to Getting the Siggie. A 2 hour and a 2.5-3 hr one the latter includes role playing. I found many misunderstood the benefits of their use until they went through my seminar. If your brokerage or board is interested please call me at 204-946-5333

      • Jim, in Ontario buyer agency was introduced 25 years ago, and agents still have plenty of resistance. It’s quite amazing, actually. Whose fault might that be?

        Carolyne L

        • Carolyne, what is the solution? There are many different real estate franchises in Canada. However, after 25 years no one has had the ambition to establish a Buyer Agency Franchise in Canada. Back in the 90’s a few brokers tried to work as an Exclusive Buyer Brokerage, but the resistance from the boards and agents was just too great. Jim will recall the articles in REM at the time. At the time boards and Realtors would do all they could to maintain the status quo. So 25 years later do you think there is any chance that EXCLUSIVE BUYER BROKERAGE would be able to succeed in Canada? Why or Why not! Perhaps there are some Realtors that would be able to give their opinion as to why EXCLUSIVE BUYER BROKERAGE has been a failure. My definition of EXCLUSIVE BUYER AGENCY is a company that does not take listings and represent sellers in anyway – they only represent buyers 100%. D

          • I can’t remember but the mid 80s comes to mind when first hearing about Sarbanes Oxley and stateside findings…
            Again if memory serves me (so long ago), I think the venue was Ottawa and a company called Countrywide.
            (I could be wrong; someone else might have more accurate memory.)

            As the story of the day went, they had two offices in a mall; one that only took and serviced listings, the other only representing buyers. Seemed it was less than a year before they discovered it just wasn’t working. And gave up on the concept.

            Kleenex will always be Kleenex; xerox will always be xerox etcetera. Until some new creation in real estate comes to the fore, I don’t think it will ever work outside of the way it works now.

            I’m perhaps the wrong one to ask because I double-ended 60% of my listings. And when working with a buyer under buyer brokerage, I repeatedly subsequently listed and sold the buyer’s property, sometimes having a string of six transactions tied together, five ends being mine.

            When I joined the industry nearly four decades ago I clearly (mis)understood; I thought the seller hired me to sell his house, not just market it to use it to acquire buyers for someone else’s house.

            But when buyers contacted me for the express purpose of finding them the ideal home to buy, because I always had a large selection of listings, it was abundantly easy for me to match up my buyers with my sellers.

            I don’t think stand-alone buyer only offices will ever materialize. It’s simply not practical from a business perspective. I’ve never been able to figure out how teams work. When I had a 24% market share the interwoven transactions were at the root.

            We had four in-town RLP offices and two rural ones dominating the trading area. It was almost impossible not to double-end in one manner or another. And as someone commented again recently, in smaller markets in particular it is almost unavoidable.

            Clearly if I had had an answer I’d have created a buyer only office. But I could see the impracticality of it. I don’t ever see it happening.

            That’s one set of circumstances neither the government nor the press has any control over and I don’t see them so-doing any time soon short of creating a as yet unheard of composition – or creating a revolt.

            You can make as many rules as you like but the rule makers forget it’s the public that determines how they will support (or not) a business theory.

            Respectfully
            Carolyne L 🍁

    • You’re welcome and thank you for taking the time to both read and respond! Like you said, there are times where we have to realize that we can’t do it all and we shouldn’t!

  6. When I meet with clients I give them a heads up. I tell them I’m ok giving them initial information, having a first meet and greet. I explain how it works with realtor relationship, we work under a 100% commission based system etc, etc. Then I explain that if they decide to work with me exclusively, and when it comes to doing viewings I will have them sign a Buyer Agency Agreement. Most of the time people are ok with this approach because they understand we work strictly by commission. If however I don’t hear from them again then obviously that’s ok because they don’t want to commit to me so I don’t want to commit to them.
    Like I said 9 times out of 10 it works out well.

  7. This article does not explain anything about benefits for the Buyer. Without explaining ( and believing) that BRA is the best frame for the Buyer’s interest the article is incomplete and shines the light on a wrong angle. I have expected more from REM…

    • Hi Vanya, Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback. This post was not intended to explain the buyer representation document and it’s benefits to buyers, this was intended to discuss when you could present the document to your client and the benefits and drawbacks of each timing. I can definitely write about the benefits of the buyer rep for the buyer but in this case I wanted to specifically discuss, with Agents, the timing of the representation agreement as the question of when it was appropriate to do so was a question I answered often. I hope that clarifies this.

      thanks again,
      Ken

  8. Hey David,

    Realtors in general are getting really tired of comments like yours! Getting kicked to the curb after spending countless hours with clients for apparently no good reason! I hope at the end of months of work where you are …you actually get paid for a job well done. How dare you assume that we can just go on and on like a duracell battery and wear ourselves out for the good of the client and get nothing for it. Realtors seem to be the only people on the face of the earth who have to put out their time, effort, and money to get what?? Oh yeah…nothing? Just on the whim of a Buyer who decides they want to walk into an open house and plunk down an offer to the Realtor sitting in the chair who did absolutely nothing for them. Get a grip. We happen to spend a small fortune paying fees every month to have this licence along with regular updates and are bound by the law up to our necks. It would be nice for a change to be recognized as people who deserve respect! You think that we like to work for nothing? Sounds like it. What other profession is going to go out of their way for YOU…without getting paid? Oh yeah …lawyers, doctors, even the grocery store attendant. I’m sure you would get up and go to work knowing that maybe your employer would decide to pay someone else instead of you for a job that you worked on for a long time….right. Besides, it is a MUTUAL agreement. If both of you decide it is not working out…then what is the issue? I’m sure that the Realtor would not want to bind a person who does not want to work with them. So, if you don’ think Realtors should get what they deserve…maybe …don’t “USE” one!! By the way…I think …maybe…it benefits both…it’s called TRUST!

  9. Dear David Davidson, during your whole career, have you ever have any buyer voluntarily come to you asking to sign a BRA before asking you to show properties? None I am sure. That is because they have nothing to loose. It is the Realtor who spend all their time on hope and prayer without a BRA. I would go to suggest that RECO should make it mandatory that a Realtor start working with public only if they have signed a BRA or Mr / Mrs/ MS/ Non Gender/ X can do their own deals just as FSBO does.

    • Sardool states ” It is the Realtor who spend all their time on hope and prayer without a BRA. I would go to suggest that RECO should make it mandatory that a Realtor start working with public only if they have signed a BRA “. Now we know the real reason that Realtors want BUYERS to sign a BRA. I would NOT expect RECO to make it mandatory for BUYERS to sign a BRA before a Realtor would show a property. That would only work in the Realtors best interest and not the consumers. Keep praying!

      • Dear David, It is very easy for coaches and speakers in real estate circles, say things that can be completely undermining the Realtors ability to perform act like a professional and value their time. You can not even get any trades person to come to start on a job, without signing a commitment and deposit money upfront. Why should a Realtor not expect the same, or at least not be judged by those who have probably sold very little real estate, or failed miserably and then pretend to be coaches and mentors. Disclaimer: Last sentence is not meant to be slight to any person or entity.

  10. I’ve always taken the route of getting the buyer rep signed right before the offer but it has definitely backfired on me because people just have no clue how our jobs as a real estate representative work.
    There are a certain group of people that take advantage of this as their agent tells them to come to our city and get us local agents to show them houses and put them on email lists. Every time they tell me they “aren’t working with a realtor” as that has what their agent has coached them to say. I know it’s my fault as I get sucked into every time but I recently tried to turn the tables and before we went in to the house I presented them with a BRA and even told them that the seller wants them to sign it before entering their home. The reaction I got was like no other. Since I called them on their sneaky plan, they got very irate and starting yelling at me trying to demand that they see the home even though I kept saying it was the seller that wanted them to sign, not me. Considering I had to get someone to look after my daughter for this showing is time I’ll never get back with her.
    How do I approach this with these certain type of people in the future? Oh and just for the record, I’ve probably shown over 50 different groups of these people homes and haven’t even got one deal from them because I did all the work for them and they just go back to their agent in the city they came from to write up the offer of the one they like and of course I never hear from them again. So it’s not from my lack of trying that’s for sure but I’m tired of losing time with my daughter for these people

  11. Kenneth why would any BUYER sign a BRA unless they believed that the Realtor was going to represent their best interests from start to finish. No BUYER should sign a BRA until dual agency is banned. There are few benefits for the BUYERS and many benefits for the Realtors. For example, Kenneth Laroza states – “The largest benefit is that by obtaining your forms, you protect your time and your efforts. The BRA forms ensure that should your client decide to work with someone else or find their own property, the hours/days/months you spent showing properties, driving around the city and doing research isn’t completely lost. Remember, you aren’t a volunteer, this is your profession.” I thought that BRA was to benefit the BUYER consumer more than the Realtors.

    • Hi David, thank you for your comment, I appreciate the discussion! You are correct, the buyer should not sign a BRA unless the Representative/Broker was going to represent their best interest. I do have to respectfully disagree on your two other points, though. I understand your view of multiple representation (previously known as dual agency in Ontario) as I have the same concerns, but I am not sure if out-right banning is a good solution. There are areas in Ontario (and I’m sure in other parts of Canada) that banning such practice could be the detriment of the consumer. Multiple representation encompasses any two parties represented by the same “AGENT” which is the brokerage. In smaller communities this could result in an individual being unable to find representation if the brokerage in that community had a large presence. In my humble opinion, I would much prefer that the individual representative explain the situation and even contract out of multiple representation. IE letting the buyer (or seller) know that should a situation arise where the other party has the opportunity to be represented by the same individual representative, that representative will bow out either partially or completely. This could be done in writing as well.

      In regards to the “benefit buyer consumer MORE than”, I believe that any business contract, when done correctly should benefit both parties equally. Whether or not this contract was created this way, is not for me to argue, but in regards to your comment, no party should have more benefits then the other when it comes to business. The buyer receives protection, guidance, understanding of the market and knowledge to negotiate a deal and in return, the representative receives a guarantee that their efforts and time will be compensated. Which is how any other service industry works. Which I feel is fair.

      Please note this post was intended to give guidance to Agents on when to present the document that is technically required by our governing body when doing a transaction, it was not intended to discuss or defend the document and it’s benefits.

      Thanks again for replying!
      Ken

      • Ken, thank you for your comments. You seem to have a good understanding of buyer agency. Sorry for going off topic with my comments.

        • I try, and no apology necessary. The comment section is built for discussion and I am very glad to be able to have one with you!

    • David, if the buyer does not sign a BRA with an agent, the agent has no legal obligation to work in the best interest of the buyer. i.e. The agent does not have to make the buyer aware of a property of interest or to show it to the buyer. The agent can keep a property for a client who already signed a BRA and not show it to the buyer who did not sign a BRA. When a potential client will contact an agent to see a property, this agent will put its priority to the clients who already signed a BRA as this agent has a legal responsibility to work in their best interest.

      In the case of multiple representation, meaning here that the buyer signed a BRA, the Brokerage shall not disclose that the Buyer may or will pay more than the offered price, unless otherwise instructed in writing by the Buyer. The Brokerage shall not disclose the motivation of or personal information about the Buyer. The Brokerage shall not disclose the price the Buyer should offer. If the buyer would not have signed a BRA, all these info can be divulged to the sellers.

      So, it’s not only about the Realtor, it is also about working in the best interests of the buyer!

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