Always Ask: A Tale of the Buyer’s Representation Agreement

Last week a couple called me on my Viridian condo listing.  It already had a contract on it, but I offered to show it to them anyway, in case the contract fell through.  I also found another unit with the same floor plan and an owner who also wanted to sell.  We met up and I showed them both condos.  While we were checking out the two condos, the couple mentioned another one which had recently come on the market which also had the same floor plan.  I was unaware of this condo, though I generally keep tabs on what’s for sale on the downtown Nashville luxury condo scene.

I tried pulling it up on my Mobile MLS, but it still didn’t show up.  Frustrated, I called the office and had someone look it up.  The problem was that the real estate agent had spelled “Viridian” incorrectly, so that is why I didn’t initially see it as an option.  I called the real estate agent, but got his voicemail.  So we were unable to see the third unit that day.

The couple said they might want to see that unit, and during the weekend they asked me to set up a showing for Monday.  We went on Monday and took a look.  The couple really liked it.  When we were finished looking at it and I was preparing to go, they said that they would like to submit an offer on it and would I draw up the paperwork.  I was pleasantly surprised by this, because they had previously not asked me for representation.  I said sure – why don’t we go to lunch and iron out the details of the offer – they agreed, we had lunch and I went home to prepare the offer.

Before I go into the next part of the story, let me say that I REALLY LIKED this couple.  They were both very smart and kind and shared with me about their 10-month-old baby and how they met, etc.  I was thinking to myself that I would really like to be friends with them after the transaction.  Ok back to the story:

I was really in a crunch for time when I got home.  I had a client coming in 35 minutes.  I realized that I had forgotten to ask about the earnest money amount and the Buyer Representation details.  I sent them an email about the earnest money, as I was filling out the offer form first.  They quickly responded with their answer and I completed that form.  I emailed it to them to sign.

Secondly, I filled out the loan addendum and emailed it to them.

Then, as I was starting the Buyer Representation Agreement, my client showed up.  Not at my office.  I was at my house.  So I asked them to wait for a moment, and returned to quickly finish up the Agreement.  While filling it out, I came across the question of how long the buyers would be working with me.  My default is always a year.  I hesitated to put a year in the agreement because I had not discussed it with the couple.  After my hesitation my thoughts were – well, they are really nice – I am sure that they will let me know what time frame they really want – it’s most important that I get this document to them to sign.  I emailed it on to them and went to be with my other client.

When I returned, I had an email from them about the Buyer Representation Agreement.  In the email they seemed really upset about how I had put one year of Buyer Representation in the form.  They also told me how they would like to set up our Buyer Agreement.  I was absolutely mortified.  I had no idea it would hit them like that.  I really hadn’t thought through how presumptious I must have sounded to them. 

I called them and apologized and explained my time crunch, etc.  They were polite about it, but I could tell I had definitely done some damage. 

The offer did not result in a binding agreement.  I have not heard from them since.

People who know me know that I am generally very careful with my Buyer’s Representation Agreement.  My attitude has always been that if someone doesn’t want to work with me, then I am completely fine with that and don’t want to work with them either. 

But there was no way that this couple could have known this about me after only meeting me for the sum total of 1.5-2 hours. 

I guess the moral of the story is — NEVER ASSUME.  ALWAYS ASK.