I’m trying to buy a house and my real estate representative isn’t meeting my expectations with the house hunt. What can I do about it?

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Buying a home can be a stressful experience. After all, it’s a significant decision that involves a lot of money. Most of us buy or sell a home only a few times in our lives, so the guidance and support of a real estate professional is essential. When you enter into a Buyer Representation Agreement (or Listing Agreement when selling), it’s important to voice your expectations and ask questions about the specific services that will be provided. Before signing, you’ll want to make sure that everything that was discussed is put into writing and included in your agreement with the brokerage.

If you’re not happy with the quality of services your real estate professional is providing, or they don’t appear to be doing what they said they would do, the first step is to talk with them about it.

You’ll want to be clear about which expectations aren’t being met. For example, is there not enough communication? Are you looking for more guidance about the market? Would you like the opportunity to see more homes? Are the homes you are being shown not meeting your criteria? Are you unsatisfied with their approach to negotiations?

By being specific, you may be able to resolve the problem and come up with a new game plan going forward.

You’ll also want to ensure that your expectations about the buying process are in line with market conditions. For example, do your frustrations stem from the process of trying to buy a home in an area where competing offers are the norm? Is your budget appropriate for the type of home and location you are interested in?

If the conversation with your representative doesn’t improve the situation, make an appointment with the manager of the brokerage to voice your concerns and find a solution.

The Buyer Representation Agreement you signed is a contract with the brokerage, not the individual salesperson, so the manager may propose reassigning you to another salesperson to fulfill the agreement. You’ll want to remember that a signed buyer representation agreement is a legally-binding contract that typically locks you into working with only one brokerage for a stated amount of time. With Buyer Representation Agreements (and Listing Agreements), you’ll want to be aware of the “holdover clause”, which, in very specific circumstances, may bind you to the brokerage for a certain amount of time after you have ended or terminated your agreement. Be sure to ask your representative for clarification on this, or consider speaking to your lawyer.

We’ve seen some situations where buyers decide to engage another brokerage while still being under contract with the first brokerage. You should avoid doing this, as there can be legal and financial consequences.

If your concerns are more serious and relate to the representative’s professional conduct, you have the option of filing a complaint with RECO. You can find the complaint form on RECO’s website at www.reco.on.ca. RECO can’t get you out of your contract with the brokerage, but we will hold the salesperson accountable for their conduct.

There are many benefits to working with a registered real estate professional, but keep in mind it’s always helpful to do some homework before selecting a particular one. Take the time to learn about the process of buying a home, and then ask friends and family to recommend a real estate professional they’ve used in the past. Consider interviewing a few candidates to see who the best fit is for you.

You can also check out my other tips for finding the right real estate professional for you in the May 9th Ask Joe column.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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