There’s a house I like, but my agent is hit-or-miss about returning my calls and emails. The seller’s rep seems nice, so can I contact her myself for more detailed information?
If you have signed a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) with your current agent the short answer to your question is no, the seller’s representative is not allowed to speak with you directly if she works for a different brokerage than your salesperson. In Ontario, real estate salespeople and brokers are required to follow a Code of Ethics that is enforced by the Real Estate Council of Ontario. The code is clear: if you sign a BRA with a brokerage, employees from another brokerage can only communicate information to you about a real estate transaction through a salesperson or broker with your brokerage.
The Code of Ethics was written to protect consumers. Registered salespeople have the training, experience and knowledge to ask the right questions and get you the best possible deal in a transaction, and they know that RECO takes professional ethics very seriously. It makes sense to work with one, and it’s best to let your representative liaise with the seller’s salesperson.
Unfortunately, it sounds as though your representative isn’t meeting your client service expectations. Have the two of you sat down and really discussed the matter? If not, I urge you to do so. Maybe they misunderstood your needs, and you can resolve the problem to get on the right track.
If you can’t, your salesperson’s Broker of Record (the brokerage’s compliance officer) might be able to intervene or recommend another salesperson from the same brokerage. Remember to ask potential candidates about their experience, references, and the services they provide, since different salespeople within a brokerage may offer different levels of service, and be sure to look them up on the RECO website. Once you have decided upon a new representative, make sure any fee adjustments or special considerations you negotiated with your previous salesperson are reflected in the revised agreement.
Should you decide to part company with your salesperson’s brokerage, remember: the agreement you signed is a legally-binding contract, so if the brokerage doesn’t agree to let you go you could be bound to the brokerage until the BRA’s formal expiration date. The agreement may even contain a “holdover clause,” which means that if an employee of the brokerage showed you a property that you subsequently bought using another brokerage, you could owe the first brokerage commission for a defined period of time even after the agreement has ended. If you aren’t entirely clear on the agreement’s terms and conditions, show it to a lawyer who understands real estate law.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.