If you listen closely, you can hear everyone clicking the 'back' button.

If you listen closely, you can hear everyone clicking the ‘back’ button.

MAN, THAT TITLE IS BLATANT FALSE ADVERTISING. NOBODY WANTS TO SEE OLD LADY BRA.

The joke’s on you. She’s actually 27.

It would be a new low for even me to dedicate a blog post just to bras, although I have talked about the economics of getting breast implants and that sluts can teach us lessons about personal finance. I even wrote about the economics of strip clubs, because why not. So maybe it isn’t a new low, just one of many lows. Or highs, depending on your perspective.

But actually, we’re not going to talk about bras. Oh, we’re going to talk about BRAs, but not bras. See the difference?

BRA stands for Buyer Representative Agreement, or what it’s called in my neck of the woods, Buyer’s Brokerage Agreement. I’m assuming they called it that because somebody with more than 5 brain cells and an immature sense of humor looked at it first.

No matter what they’re called, the agreement works something like this. Realtors, who have been screwed by clients in the past, will require you to sign an agreement before they’ll take you out to look at houses. This agreement ties you to the Realtor for a certain amount of time, typically 60 or 90 days. Think of it as the worst episode of My 90 Day Fiancee Ever.

Note: every episode of My 90 Day Fiancee is the worst episode of that show. WE GET IT, YOU’RE DESPERATE FOR A GREEN CARD.

Let’s explain with an example. You contact your local real estate agent to show you a few houses. You go out, check out a few, and aren’t really in love with any. Plus your Realtor hits on you 7 times while going out, including dropping hints about what you’re doing later.

Note: this actually happened to me and a friend. He was looking for a place, I came along for the ride, we almost had a date.

So you’re looking, and suddenly you drive by a house that’s for sale privately. You knock on the door, go for a tour, and and 15 minutes later you’ve charmed the sellers enough to give you a smokin’ deal on the place. A few days later your agent phones you back up, you tell them the great news, and all is wrapped up in a neat little package.

Au contraire little one. You forgot one thing. Remember that one form that you signed before looking at houses, the buyer’s representative dealie? That form gives your real estate agent the right to get paid if you buy a house via another agent, privately, or any other way. Hell, even if you look at the property with that agent, the contract expires, and then you go back and buy it with another agent, the original agent still has the right to get paid. That’s because they “introduced” you to the property.

Basically, it’s like a listing agreement in reverse. The agent wants to lock you into using them, and them only. They’re tired of curb kickers showing up and looking at a place to only bugger off 4 seconds later.

On the one hand, you can understand the frustration. But on the other, there’s no way you should be signing one of those agreements. You should be able to fire your real estate agent easily and without any sort of awkward conversations. It’s your right as a consumer, dammit. Just like you should easily be able to stop going to that particular Target because the kid with the weird ears works there, you should be able to just stop answering your phone until your real estate agent gets the message.

It’s easiest to nip this in the bud early. If your agent insists you sign something before going and looking at a property, make sure you read it before signing. Don’t be satisfied with the agent explaining it either. They basically talk BS for a living, they’re good at it. Don’t worry, the language will be pretty clear. Words like “exclusive” will show up a lot, and they’re not talking about the MasterCard lounge.

Then, nicely say to your agent you’re not signing. Don’t even sign up for a month, which will probably be her next suggestion. You could print out this blog post and throw it at her in explanation, but instead just bring up what I said earlier. In every service relationship, the customer should have the right to fire the service provider. Besides, if the Realtor does a good job, they’ve got nothing to worry about. They’ll especially like that one.

Finally, point out to the agent that every professional relationship begins on trust. If they can’t trust you, how can you trust that they’re giving you the best advice? You’re taking a leap of faith by dealing with someone new, so the least they can do is take one back. Sometimes it might not work out. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

If Canadian real estate starts to really slow down (if you’ve been here for a while, you know just how likely I think that is), agents will start using these agreements more often. Don’t let them. It’s that simple.

 

Tell everyone, yo!