SOME PRECAUTIONS FOR BUYERS
By Virginia law, you are entitled to have a realtor of your choice
to serve as your buyer agent to represent your
best interests in a real estate transaction.
DO NOT UNKNOWINGLY RELINQUISH THIS RIGHT!
PRECAUTIONS - BUYING A NEW-BUILT HOME:
- Builders generally already have a 3% buyer agent commission fee built into their new home prices. If you have no buyer agent, you relinquish this built-in fee and the builder takes this unused fee to their profit bottom line (by law, this fee cannot be paid to you if you are not a licensed realtor...payments indicated as real estate commissions can only be paid to licensed realtors via their licensed broker)
- In lieu of having a buyer agent, the builder’s sales representative (usually not a licensed realtor) will complete the new-home contract paperwork for you but will only be legally representing the builder who is the rep's employer and pays them as a sales rep (you will not have anyone legally representing your best interests during the transaction)
- If a buyer encounters problems with the builder while having no buyer agent, the buyer is on his/her own without professional advice or assistance (again, the builder’s rep will represent the builder’s best interests as an employee and representative of the builder)
- Most builders will only pay buyer agent commission if the buyer agent physically accompanies the buyer during the initial visit to the builder sales site…if you are alone without your buyer agent during the initial visit to a builder’s new-home site, ask the builder’s sales rep what the builder’s policy is when a buyer will be using a buyer agent…if the rep tells you that you must have your real estate agent to physically accompany you during your initial visit so as to be able to use a buyer agent during the purchase transaction and then to have the buyer agent paid commission by the builder, you should tell the rep that you plan to use a buyer agent and then immediately depart the builder’s sales location…do NOT register with the builder…do NOT take any builder marketing materials…do NOT discuss pricing with the sales rep. You should then plan to return at a later time with your buyer agent in tow if you still wish to physically review the builder's offerings. On the other hand, if the builder rep indicates that the builder will honor your agency relationship with your buyer agent and also will pay the applicagle real estate commission, you should give the builder’s sales rep your agent’s business card and proceed with viewing the builder’s offerings
NOTE: If a buyer agent offers cash assistance to the buyer at closing, it will normally be shared from the builder’s commission paid to buyer agent at closing…if there is no buyer agency, there will be no cash assistance
NOTE: Commonwealth of Virginia law requires that you to have a formally signed written agreement with a real estate brokerage when using the services of a realtor. You should enter into such an agreement as soon as possible...then, you can properly and legally represent to third parties (builders and others) that you have a formal buyer-broker relationship with a real estate agent and can also have substantive discussions about any and all properties that interest you
PRECAUTIONS - BUYING A RESALE HOME:
- Loyalty goes both ways in an agent-client relationship…only discuss and physically view properties of possible interest with your own realtor…visiting and viewing properties with another agent can result in legal “procuring cause” conflicts and possible legal issues/lawsuits
- If you have questions about another realtor’s listing or a for-sale-by-owner property, contact you own realtor and pose any questions through your own agent (this should preclude procuring cause issues)
- Feel free to attend public Open Houses…but tell the Open House host that you have a real estate agent and formally register your agent upon sign-in…this action should preclude procuring cause issues (in fact, we recommend that you carry some of your agent’s business cards and give the host your agent's card if available)
PRECAUTIONS – DUAL AGENCY:
- Be very leery of dual agency…this is when a single real estate agent is the legal representative for both the seller and buyer on both sides of a real estate transaction. While dual agency is legal in Virginia, most lawyers recommend against entering into a dual agency relationship/agreement... whether they know it or not, in a dual agency situation, both the seller and buyer are forfeiting their rights to have an agent represent either of their individual best interests. What are the specific ramifications? Once dual agency is agreed to by all participating parties, the dual agent cannot advise either client on the terms to offer or counteroffer in the transaction; cannot advise either party on the suitability or condition of the property; cannot advise either party on the efficacy of repairs to request or make; and cannot advise either party in any dispute that may arise relating to the transaction
- As many say in real estate, dual agency for the realtor seems to be a great deal…the agent is relieved of most professional responsibilities in the transaction but generally gets both sides of the listing and buyer commissions paid by the seller of the property
- The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recommends against using dual agency…NAR cites that dual agency disputes are the number one cause of lawsuits involving real estate in the United States and the lawsuits are generally initiated by a disgruntled first-time home-buyer who feels that the dual agent left them high and dry during a transaction
NOTE: Please do not confuse dual agency with designated agency which is also legal in Virginia. Designated agency is different than dual agency since there are two different agents from the same brokerage in a given transaction and each is required to individually represent the best interests of their respective clients…designated agency is commonly practiced in Virginia without issues since each the buyer and the seller have their own individual real estate agent who representing their respective best interests. As is the case with dual agency, all parties to the transaction must agree in writing beforehand when using designated agency
Please call us at 703-625-5586 or email us if you have any questions?
The R&R Team, Inc.