News and views about real estate in Greater Hartford

You’re Mine

Great, thanks for meeting me at this house, I’m glad we were able to take the tour. Now that I showed you the house, you have to sign this contract. It says that I’m your real estate agent, that we’re going to be working together to find you a home. Go ahead and sign it now. You’re mine.

You're MineAn FYI to buyers … just because a real estate agent tries to get you to sign a contract doesn’t mean that you have to. We regularly hear stories about agents who try to coerce buyers into becoming their clients by suggesting that the buyer has some sort of obligation to an agent that has just shown them a home.

The State of Connecticut requires that either the buyer or the seller be contractually represented at every showing. An agent cannot show a home when they represent neither the buyer nor the seller. So, there are two scenarios here for buyers who have not yet chosen an agent:

1. The agent showing the house is from the listing brokerage and represents the seller. The buyer is considered an “Unrepresented Person” and should be given a disclosure explaining the situation.

2. The agent showing the house is not from the listing brokerage. In this case they need to represent the buyer in order to make the showing legal.

In both cases it’s very likely that the showing agent would love to have the buyer as a client. That’s how the business works, agents meet new potential buyers and try to convert them into clients. But this is also where paths diverge as there are lots of different strategies for wooing buyer clients.

Back to the hard sell, something that a small subset of agents seem to use. You, as a buyer, are actually in the position of power. You have every right to refuse to sign a contract that you feel is not in your best interest to sign. Just say no. If the agent didn’t talk to you about buyer agency in advance, or is unable to make a compelling case as to why you should sign, then don’t do it.

Agents know the rules. We are required to take continuing education courses that focus on the buyer agency laws and what is required of us. Some agents choose not to follow the laws because telling a buyer you have never met that they are going to have to sign a contract to see the home is incredibly awkward. I can report from personal experience that a meaningful number of buyers aren’t interested in even talking about contracts – it’s a conversation stopper and the buyer disappears.

That’s why some agents take the hard sell approach. They get the buyer out to the house and then spring the contract on them either before or after the showing. By all appearances this puts the pressure on the buyer, but in reality the buyer is still in control.

Ask for the agent’s business card.

If their card matches the sign out front, then they work for the listing brokerage and can represent the seller in the showing. It’s a legal showing and all they really need to be doing is giving you an unrepresented buyer disclosure. Insisting that you sign a contract is their way of asking you to be their client. You should feel free to agree or decline.

If their card does not match the sign out front, then the agent actually does need you to sign something in order to make the showing legal. Of course, you (as the buyer) have no obligation to bail the agent out by signing a contract to bring them back into compliance with the law. They should have explained all this up front, before you even came out to the house. If you’re feeling compassionate, agree to sign a one day contract for only that property. This will meet their legal obligation without creating a long-term commitment on your part.

Happy house hunting!

  1. Rachel

    Thanks for this honest and thoughtful breakdown of your rights as a buyer behind signing a contract!