Working with a Buyer as a Seller Agent
QUESTION: I have a property listed for sale. A neighbor saw my sign and approached my client about buying the property. The two of them agreed on the terms of the sale, including price, due diligence period and closing date. The buyer does not want me to act as her agent. However, my client and the buyer both want me to assist the buyer in completing an Offer to Purchase and Contract. The buyer understands that I will be acting as the seller’s agent only. What do I need to do to be able to work with an unrepresented buyer as a seller agent only?
ANSWER: As long as you follow a few guidelines, it is perfectly permissible for you to work with an unrepresented buyer as a seller agent.
In this context, there is only one form that needs to be presented to and signed by the buyer, the Working With Real Estate Agents Disclosure (For Buyers) (“WWREA Disclosure”). In the WWREA Disclosure, you would ordinarily check all the agency options that are offered by your firm. Thus, for example, if your firm offers buyer agency and dual agency, but does not offer designated dual agency, you would check “Buyer Agency” and “Dual Agency,” but you would not check “Designated Dual Agency.” You would then review all the agency options that are checked with the buyer to determine whether or not you will act as the buyer’s agent.
However, in your situation, since the buyer has already made it clear that she does not want representation, we would recommend that you only check the “Unrepresented Buyer” option. Note that in the current version of the WWREA Disclosure, there is no longer a place for an unrepresented buyer to initial to indicate that they understand the broker is working only for the seller. According to the Real Estate Commission’s 2021-2022 General Update Course, ‘[t]he unrepresented buyer is put on notice that the licensee represents the interest of the seller once the Unrepresented Buyer (Seller subagent) option is explained to them by the licensee.”
According to the Update materials referenced above, although it’s not required “[t]he Commission’s Questions and Answers on: Working With Real Estate Agents is a supplemental resource that the Commission strongly encourages licensees to review with prospective buyers and sellers to help explain and answer questions about agency relationships.”
While it is permissible for you to assist the buyer in completing an Offer to Purchase and Contract, you may not give her advice on how to fill in the blanks, particularly those relating to price, dates, and closing costs. In this context, the Real Estate Commission has written that the seller’s agent “may not advise or counsel the buyer as to the proposed terms of any offer.” If she asks you questions about the form, you are permitted to explain the form and to share the information in the Guidelines for Completing the Offer to Purchase and Contract (Standard Form 2-G). If the buyer’s questions persist, remind her that you are not her agent and that she should consult her closing attorney.
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