Working with a Real Estate Licensee

After you choose a real estate licensee 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 licensees must provide to and discuss with consumers they’re working with.

The Guide will help you understand your legal relationship with your real estate licensee, 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 licensee or team of licensees, your agency relationship is with the brokerage and every licensee in that brokerage

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

3)     You can be the customer of a real estate licensee. 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 licensee will have to you in each. Your real estate licensee 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 licensee, 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 licensee.

Written service agreements help real estate licensees 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 licensee will be willing to. For example, you may want to list your home for 60 days, but the real estate licensee may belong to a real estate board where 90 days is the minimum listing duration.

If your real estate licensee 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 licensee.