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A new year in the real estate industry always seems to bring new rules and guidelines that agents need to follow. This year brings a new rule requiring real estate agents and our buyer clients to sign a buyer brokerage services agreement.

This is a big change that affects everyone planning to buy a home anywhere in Washington state.

What’s Changed

State law now requires all real estate agents/brokerages to enter into a written “buyer brokerage services agreement” with buyers we represent.

In other words, when you hire me to help you buy a home in the Tri-Cities, we’ll need to sign a contract stating that I’m your agent and you’re my client. (Same thing applies no matter what agent you hire to help you through the homebuying process.)

This is an update to what we call the “Agency Law” (RCW 18.86). When that law was passed in 1998, it only required agents/brokerages to sign written contracts with sellers. Now the law requires us to have signed, written contracts with both sellers and buyers. Here’s an article on the Washington REALTORS® website from early 2023 that explains the then-proposed new law.

What the Contract Will Include

In short, it’s similar to the written agreement that you sign when you hire the local car repair shop to fix your car. The agreement outlines the work to be done, costs, etc.

Similarly to the real estate sellers agreement, the buyers representation agreement is a contract between you and the real estate brokerage; in my case, that would be RE/MAX Northwest. The contract then states that I’m the agent appointed to represent you.

The agreement ensures that you, as a buyer, clearly understand the terms of the brokerage’s representation and compensation. State law says it must include things like:

  • The term of the agreement (with a default term of 60 days and an option for a longer term)
  • The name of the broker appointed to be the buyer’s agent
  • Whether the agency relationship is exclusive or non-exclusive
  • Whether the buyer consents to the individual broker representing both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction (referred to as “limited dual agency”)
  • Whether the buyer consents to the broker’s designated broker/managing broker’s limited dual agency
  • The amount the firm will be compensated and who will pay the compensation
  • Any other agreements between the parties

What It Means For You

Probably the biggest impact on you and other buyers is that your agent can no longer show you houses and begin working as your Realtor® without first signing this agreement.

Technically, we can, but the law requires that both parties sign the agreement either before we begin providing services or “as soon as reasonably practical” after.

Ultimately, it means that you’ll begin your homebuying process with a clear understanding of the services I’ll provide you as your agent, as well as how much my services will cost and who will pay for those services.

Final Thoughts

As I said above, this is how agents/brokerages have worked with sellers for the past 25 years. When I list someone’s home for sale, we have a clear agreement that formalizes the relationship and makes it more transparent for the seller.

It only makes sense that we should do the same for our buyer clients. Having a transparent agreement in place is the right thing to do.

So if you’re ready to have me help you buy a home in the Tri-Cities area, be ready for me to show you this new buyers agreement. I’ll go over the details with you, answer any questions you have, and then after we both sign it, we can get started on your homebuying journey!

As always, if you have any questions, get in touch anytime!

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Cari McGee

Hi, I'm Cari McGee. 👋 I've lived in the Tri-Cities since 1994 and I've been a licensed Realtor® since 2004. That's a lot of local knowledge and real estate experience that I put into every article you read on my website! We've helped more than 560 families buy or sell property in the Tri-Cities. In 2023, our community voted us the bronze winner for Best Real Estate Team in the Tri-Cities Best voting. Learn more about me by clicking the link right above. And if you have any questions, get in touch anytime!

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