Working with a Real Estate Professional

After you choose 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 form 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 legal relationships:

1)      An entire real estate brokerage can act as your agent. This is a common law agency relationship, where even if you’re only directly working with a single real estate professional or team of industry professionals, your agency relationship is with the brokerage and every professional in that brokerage

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. You are working with them in some capacity, but they are not acting as your agent or in your best interest.

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.

Written Service Agreements

At the beginning of your working 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 the brokerage will provide
  • 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 professional will be compensated

You can negotiate the specific terms of the written service agreement you sign, and 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)
  • fee
  • services they will provide
  • clauses for early termination of the agreement

Remember, though, just because these items are negotiable, it doesn’t mean your real estate professional will be willing to. For example, you may want to list your home for 60 days, but the real estate professional may belong to a real estate board where 90 days is the minimum listing duration.

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.