I’m unhappy with my real estate salesperson and I’m not sure I want to work with him anymore. Can I cut him out of the process and deal with the seller’s agent myself?

I’m sorry to hear that. Assuming you signed a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) with your salesperson’s brokerage and it is currently in effect, the answer is no, you can’t deal directly with the seller’s agent. A BRA typically stipulates that you must inform the brokerage that represents you about any properties you may wish to purchase and work with that brokerage when you submit an offer.

Furthermore, the Code of Ethics that is enforced by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) prohibits salespeople and brokers from communicating directly with consumers who are represented by another brokerage. In this case, that would prevent the seller’s representative from dealing with you directly.

The Code was written to protect consumers. Buying or selling a home involves large sums of money and legally-binding contracts, so it makes sense to work with a registered real estate salesperson who can ask the seller’s representative the right questions on your behalf, help you develop a strategy for finding the home that’s right for you, and help you to get the best possible deal.

You didn’t say why you’re unhappy with your salesperson. If you believe he may have violated the Code or you have other major concerns, I encourage you to file a complaint with RECO. If the issues involve levels of service – maybe he isn’t timely at returning your messages or hasn’t had the time to show you many suitable properties – it’s possible your disagreement can be resolved with a frank and open dialogue.

Have the two of you discussed the matter? When you interviewed potential candidates, did you ask this individual how he intended to work in your best interests? And did you make your service expectations clear up front?

I hope that you and your salesperson can reach an understanding. If a discussion doesn’t solve the problem, I strongly recommend talking to your salesperson’s Broker of Record, who is the broker responsible for ensuring that the brokerage complies with provincial legislation. He or she may either attempt to mediate the dispute or recommend another salesperson from the same brokerage to assist you. A BRA is a legally-binding contract, and when you sign one, you agree to work exclusively with a single brokerage, not an individual salesperson.

The Broker of Record might even agree to cancel your agreement but remember: the BRA may include a holdover clause. This means you could owe the brokerage a commission if you decide to purchase a property (within a defined period of time after the agreement terminates) that was shown to you by your salesperson when the BRA was still in effect.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

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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