Is it time to Say Goodbye to Your Real Estate Agent
In all relationships, ending a relationship can sometimes be difficult, especially when you are under a signed agreement. Buying and selling homes is more than working with a friend. It is also about making the right choices for yourself and your families best interests. There are expectations when relying on Real Estate Agents to help you Buy and Sell and professionalism should be at the top. If you are unhappy with your real estate agent, there are a few things you can do.
First, communicate your concerns and try to mutually solve the issue with your REALTOR. If you are having difficulty reaching your real estate agent, contact their brokerage. The agreement you entered into is with the Brokerage, not the real estate agent and the brokerage may re-assign a different REALTOR® to you. Most Edmonton Real Estate Brokers are very reasonable and do what they can to help you.
Your agent may also choose to terminate your Listing Agreement or Buyers Brokerage Agreement without any compensation or there may be a clause in your contract with a set dollar amount to terminate the agreement to cover some of the expenses which cost your agent to market the home.
Once you receive the cancellation or termination document, in the province of Alberta, you are free to enter into another agreement with a different real estate agent. Read your termination over before signing. There may be parts in your cancellation agreement that may still be in effect even after the termination.
Below are signs telling you that it may be time to fire your real estate agent.
A breach of Fiduciary Duties (The consumer Relationship Guide) which forms part of your agreement you originally signed with your REALTOR. You have expressed your concerns repeatedly which have not been addressed or worse, have been completely ignored by the other party.
You have no communication with your real estate agent, leaving you in limbo, not knowing what your REALTOR® is doing to sell your home, or the actions being taken to find you a new one. This can be extremely frustrating and you deserve to know what is happening on a regular basis.
Your Real Estate Agent keeps pushing for price reductions without providing the reason. If your home, needs a price adjustment, there will be a reason, whether it is negative feedback from other agents who have shown your home, not enough showings (normally in Edmonton, you should be getting a few showings every week with the exception of multi-million dollar homes), a surplus of recent inventory in your neighborhood, recent economic factors, etc. This information should have been discussed prior to you signing the agreement during the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) stage.
If you are still interested in selling your home and would like an experienced marketing real estate team to work with you in your best interest, contact us.
Should I get title insurance in place of a real property report?
If possible, it is still best to have a current Real Property Report with compliance when buying or selling a home to ensure all property buildings are within the municipality guidelines. If an RPR is not an option, title insurance is a good substitute.
Title insurance without a Real Property Report and compliance is acceptable to most major mortgage lenders and will often provide coverage for the lender for known defects. Unlike other insurance products, there is only one premium paid at the time of closing which provides coverage to the owner throughout their ownership of the property. It also offers a wide range of protection for issues that are not covered by an RPR and compliance.
Title Insurance Benefits include
- Intervening registrations – Anything registered on the title between the time the lawyer submits to the Land Titles Office and the time of actual registration.
- Unknown Liens, encumbrances, tax arrears or defects in the title to a property.
- Unknown special assessments on condos that were implemented prior to closing.
- If an RPR or compliance is not obtained, it covers any defects that would have been revealed by an accurate up-to-date RPR and compliance.
- The forced removal of an existing structure with the exception of a boundary wall or fence where there is only limited coverage
- Forced compliance with work orders or deficiencies on an existing building permit.
- Loss of priority due to matters such as construction liens, agreements on a title, and other mortgages.
- Another party claims an interest in the property.
- Protection against title defects or encumbrances that were unknown or undiscovered at the time of closing.
- Protection against identity theft, mortgage fraud, and fraud against the title.
- Cost savings. Typically, the cost for title insurance is far less than the cost of an RPR and compliance and is available on short notice
Drawbacks of Title Insurance
- It is an insurance product. This means when an issue arises, it may not be covered by the policy and if there is coverage the insurer can decide the method used to solve the issue which may not be the preferred choice of the insured party.
- There is a lack of disclosure and certainty, especially for the buyer, at the time of closing. If an issue is discovered later, it is more difficult to pursue the seller for a fix after closing.
- There is no coverage for known defects, except for some coverage for the lender only.
- There must be some form of enforcement or government action to trigger coverage in most cases. For example, the previous owner did renovations that do not meet the requirements of the building permit or development permit. The title insurance will only pay for the cost to fix these deficiencies if there is some form of enforcement and not simply due to the deficiencies.
- It does not guarantee that all structures will remain in the current state. For example, if the municipality mandates the alteration or destruction of a certain structure, the title insurance company may pay for the cost of appealing that decision however they cannot guarantee a favourable result.
- The coverage of Title Insurance is for the buyer only (not the seller).
- If a buyer or their lawyer purchases a lender only policy that is sufficient to close the deal however the buyer still has no title insurance protection. /li>
- There is no specific protection or coverage for the seller. If a claim is made and the title insurance company determines it is the seller who created the deficiency, the title insurance company can pursue the seller for recovery of the costs they have paid.
- In most instances, title insurance only defers the need to deal with a particular issue. It does not solve it. The issues will still be there when the property is resold.
- Title insurance cannot be passed onto a new owner. Every new owner must purchase their own policy.
For more information on real property reports and the effects on the resale of your residential dwellings and a free Edmonton Home Evaluation, contact one of Remax Elite Realtors.
How real estate agents help home buyers when buying
There are several reasons why buyers prefer to work with real estate agents when buying a home, even when a buyer has sold their existing home via "For Sale by Owner". The few of these reasons include knowledge of the ever-changing markets, expertise in both negotiations and communities, experience and exclusive real estate tools.
A large portion of Canadian Real Estate Agents has earned their ABR (Accredited Buyers Representation) designation, which means, these REALTORS® have completed the education needed to service buyers with a higher standard. REALTORS® who are representing buyers expect to get paid for their services at some point in time. It is usually within a few weeks of the buyer taking possession of their new home. In the province of Alberta and to ensure real estate agents' are compensated for their services, a mandated agreement by RECA (Real Estate Council of Alberta) will need to be signed. It explains how much, the term of the agreement, what services will be provided and other relevant information.
If you have questions - ASK. Never sign anything you do not fully understand. Real Estate Agents deal with forms on a daily basis, and most of us can explain listing and purchase agreements without even looking at them. A good REALTOR® should have gone through each agreement and address questions or concerns you may have had. Near the bottom of both the Buyers Agreement and Sellers Agreement, there is an acknowledgement clause prior to signature placement. In an Exclusive Buyer Representative Agreement, it states...
- 14.1 You acknowledge that:
- (a) you have read this agreement.
- (b) you have received and read the Guide.
- (c) this agreement creates a sole agency relationship with us, as the Guide describes.
- (d) you had the opportunity to get independent advice from a lawyer before signing this agreement.
- (e) this agreement accurately sets out what we and you agree to.
Which means you can obtain legal prior to signing or you may want to take the agreement home to read over more thoroughly. These agreements are not rocket science, but knowing what you are signing is important.
- REAL ESTATE TIP#1: "The Guide" is referring to the Consumer Relation Guide which explains how the professional relationship including fiduciary duties and the real estate agency will interact with each other.
- REAL ESTATE TIP#2: Buyers Real Estate Agents, normally do not charge an extra fee above what is offered by a seller, unless otherwise agreed in writing.
Have a real estate question? We are here to help. Contact us anytime
Does Your Bank Require an Appraisal?
Appraisals are an important part of buying and selling homes in Edmonton. Real estate appraisals establish a property's sold market value price. Banks and financial Institutions require property appraisals when buyers require a mortgage on their new homes as security and provide financial institutions with a cost-effective assurance of the properties value for lending purposes. Appraisals are detailed reports compiled by licensed real estate appraisers.
Don't confuse a comparative market analysis, or CMA, with a real estate appraisal. A CMA is a sales report based on data entered into the multiple listing service, or MLS. Real estate agents use CMAs to help their clients determine realistic asking and offering prices.
An appraisal is also not the same thing as a property inspection. Home inspectors test appliances and outlets, check the plumbing and electrical, confirm heating and cooling system are in working order, use inspection tools to look for any moisture issues, missing insulation, etc.. Such information is helpful for the buyer to know before moving in.
If your real estate appraisal comes in low, the bank may not lend you the money you need to satisfy your finance condition. You may need to come up with the difference in cash or re-negotiate the sale price of the property.
Why You Need a Property Title Search
When a real estate agent in Edmonton is working for either a buyer or a seller, a property title search needs to be pulled prior to listing a home or writing an offer to purchase to ensure the saleability of the property.
Basic information on a property title will include:
- The current owners' name: In the event of an estate sale, probate may or may not have been completed and your real estate agent will ensure the person selling the property does have power of attorney. In the event, there is only one person on the title in a marriage, a dower consent will also be needed to complete the sale.
- The Legal description: The municipal or mailing address is different from the legal description and includes a block, lot and Plan number.
- The amount of the last mortgage, any second or third mortgages or the original purchase amount at the time of purchase or there may be a nominal fee.
Other things which can be revealed on a property title search may include:
- Outstanding or owing property taxes, special assessments, delinquent condominium fees which have not been paid by the seller.
- Outstanding creditors including other financial institutions and businesses for things like unpaid vehicle loans, furniture stores, construction loans, personal loans, etc
- A lis pendens, which is normally added by a lawyer during divorce procedures and "freezes" the transfer of a property until all parties are satisfied.
- Easements and Liens from a third party, such as the municipality, utility company or Environmental liens, who may have rights to use part of your property.
- Covenants which are restrictions on the land that can limit what can be built on it, where it can be built and from what materials it may be built. Breaching a covenant can have serious consequences so it is necessary to be aware of any covenants on your property.
If you are not represented by an Edmonton Real Estate Agent, with the legal description and a small fee, the public can pull the title of a property plus details on any registered documents attached to it. Also note, between the time a condition has been removed from an offer to purchase to the time a buyer signs with their lawyer, there may be a change on the land title certificate.
Understanding Buyers Brokerage Agreements
Buyer Brokerage Agreements have been around for several years, and only recently has been mandated for real estate agents to have buyers under the agreement when working in a "client status". This legal change created security for both consumers and real estates in Edmonton and throughout Alberta. This form states the responsibilities of both the buyer and their real estate agent including:
- The mandated Fiduciary Duties, to protect interests of the buyer
- The buyer cannot hire more than one broker or real estate agent to represent them
- The term of the agreement. Depending on the real estate market and how long the real estate agent chooses to work with a buyer, this agreement is normally 30 Days to 1 year and allows enough time for the buyer to purchase a home. If the buyer has not purchased a home during the time frame, they may extend the agreement or sign with another agent.
- The retainer fee (normally $1000 - $2500) which is held in trust by the real estate agent/broker and forms part of the buyers down payment.
- Remuneration is stated in the agreement and can not be changed without written consent from all parties. This protects the agents' commissions and allows the buyer to know how much the REALTOR receives for their services. (usually paid for by the sellers real estate agent)
- While under the agreement, If the buyer elects to purchase a property without the help of their real estate agent, they will owe the agency the commission set out as per their Buyers Brokerage Agreement.
- This agreement also lays out the obligations and duties of the real estate agent ensuring the agency is working in the buyers best interest. Some of these obligations may include
- Showing you all properties you may be interested in as soon as possible
- The duration of the agreement
- Advertising for properties which meet your search criteria
- Pulling titles to ensure closing capacity
- Setting you up on Auto-prospecting.
- Fiduciary Duties of the real estate agent
- Explaining and helping to prepare the offers to purchase
- Negotiate favourable terms for the buyer
- Provide a Buyers CMA to ensure you are not overpaying
- Inform you on all aspects of your offers including any counters
- Assist you with a chose of mortgage brokers, inspectors, lawyers, etc
- Any other relevant services you may require
For more information on working under a Buyers Brokerage Agreement, feel free to contact us.
What Happens if your Real Property Report does not Comply?
If you are selling a home and have been told that there is no compliance or you have a non-conforming property, don't panic if you have not yet accepted an offer to purchase. Your Edmonton real estate agent can walk you through on how to write or amend the purchase agreement to ensure you will not be penalized. However, if you have sold your home and are just finding out, you have no compliance or non-confirmation, talk to your lawyer.
Residential AREA real estate purchase agreements contain a clause which clearly outlines the factors of the real property report.
"the current use of the Land and Buildings complies with the existing municipal land use... buildings and other improvements on the Land are not placed partly or wholly on any easement ... do not encroach on neighboring lands ... directly on the real property report ...location of Buildings and other improvements on the Land complies with all relevant municipal bylaws, regulations or relaxations ... prior to the Completion Day, or the Buildings and other improvements on the Land are non-conforming buildings as that term is defined in the Municipal Government Act (Alberta) ...current use of the Land and Buildings and the location of the Buildings and other improvements on the Land comply with any restrictive covenant..."
Drawbacks of Non-Compliance or Non-Confirmation:
Knowing in advance that there may be an issue with compliance or non-confirmation on your real property report will save time, money and stress, by dealing with the issues in advance. Depending on the nature of the deficiency
A request to the municipality for a certificate may lead to a requirement for substantial alterations, relocation or destruction of certain structures.
The buyer may choose not to go ahead with the purchase until deficiencies are resolved. Under the AREA contract, the warranties provided by the seller only relate to development issues and not building code issues; and while there is some debate among lawyers on this issue, most take the view that any building code deficiencies including the lack of building code permits are the responsibility of the buyer.
Knowing in advanced provides certainty for both buyer and seller at the time of closing regarding compliance with development issues and provides the opportunity for a buyer to have the seller remedy any deficiencies in this regard prior to or in conjunction with the closing.
It can be used to address the validity of permits which may or may not have been pulled to add, replace or alter a deck, garden shed, gazebo or greenhouse.
Any concerns or questions regarding issues with your real property report, please contact your real estate lawyer. Note* The town of Morinville no longer requires compliance.
Real Estate Agent Fiduciary Duties
Real Estate Agents in Edmonton and the province of Alberta who is in an agency capacity for buyer or seller clients have duties mandated by the legal system called fiduciary duties. The position of the REALTOR® is a fiduciary capacity, acting in the best interests of the client.
- Obedience: Your real estate agent must obey your instructions as long as it is legal and in accordance with your brokerage agreement.
- Loyalty: Your real estate agent must be loyal and keep your best interests ahead of those of any other party, including themselves.
- Disclosure: In the province of Alberta, the law requires real estate agents, whether in an "agency" capacity or not, to disclose material facts to their client. Material facts are those that, if known by the buyer or seller, might have caused them to change their purchase or sale actions. In a signed agency agreement, your real estate agent must disclose more than the material facts. They must disclose all known or suspected information regarding the purchase of the property.
- Confidentiality: A real estate agents fiduciary duty of confidentiality means that nothing learned about you can be disclosed including your business, financial, personal affairs or motivations. This confidentiality fiduciary duty must be maintained for eternity.
- Accounting: Your real estate agent is accountable for all documents and funds in the transaction. Accurate reporting of the whereabouts of all monies pertaining to the transaction and the ultimate disposition. All documents are to be kept for at least six years.
- Reasonable Care: The words "reasonable care" are only finally fully defined in many cases by a judge or jury when it's too late to change your actions. Most Edmonton Real Estate Agents, as a rule of thumb, go by the ethics code "What we know, you know" when acting in an agency relationship.