Written Service Agreements

Residential real estate, property management, and mortgage brokerage professionals MUST enter a Written Service Agreement (WSA) with consumers when entering a client relationship. Written service agreements help ensure consumers understand the role of an industry professional, and when clients are better informed, there is less confusion and typically, fewer disputes.

Written service agreements help industry professionals clearly and confidently communicate with clients about:

  • the relationship between the parties;
  • the services to be provided by the brokerage;
  • the obligations and responsibilities of the parties;
  • consent for collection, use and distribution of personal information of the client;
  • method of calculation of remuneration or how the industry professional will be compensated; and,
  • consent to obtain a credit report (for mortgage brokerage professionals).

Establishing a written service agreement with consumers also offers benefits and protections to the industry professional by reducing the chances of a dispute or dissatisfaction on the part of the client, because the client has a written record of the roles and responsibilities of all parties to the agreement.

Regardless of their sector, RECA believes all industry professionals should use written service agreements when establishing client relationships. Many commercial real estate practitioners and real estate appraisers already use written service agreements and RECA will continue to work with these sectors to meet the requirements of the Rules as they relate to written service agreements.

See sample forms and agreements.


Written service agreements will inform borrowers about what they can and should expect from their relationship with their authorized mortgage broker. The agreements will:

  • describe the responsibilities and services of the mortgage broker
  • outline the obligations of the mortgage broker and the borrower
  • set out the fees (if any) or how the mortgage broker will receive their fee
  • give consent to collect, maintain, use, and distribute the borrowers’ personal information
  • address any potential conflict of interest scenarios
  • give consent to “pull’ a credit bureau on the borrower(s)
  • give an option for the borrower to receive electronic messages from the mortgage broker after the funding of the transaction

RECA has sample documents for use by mortgage brokers to comply with written service agreements and other legislative requirements. Consumers can also benefit from reviewing these documents.


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What are my options for a working relationship with a real estate professional?

The real estate professional will explain the options available, and give you a Consumer Relationships Guide that outlines the options, the difference between being a customer or a client, and the responsibilities of the real estate professional in each option.

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What is the purpose of written service agreements?

Written service agreements inform clients about what they can and should expect from their relationship with their authorized industry professional by:

  • describing the responsibilities and services of the real estate professional
  • outlining the obligations of the real estate professional and the client
  • setting out the fees (if any) or how the industry professional will be compensated
  • providing consent to collect, maintain, use, and distribute a client’s personal information
  • addressing any potential conflict of interest scenarios

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Are all buyer representation agreements exclusive?

In an exclusive buyer representation agreement, you, as the buyer, agree to only use the services of that brokerage to represent and assist you in purchasing a property.

In a non-exclusive buyer representation agreement, you, as the buyer, may use the services of multiple brokerages at the same time. You can enter into multiple non-exclusive buyer representation agreements.

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Does my buyer representation agreement have to be exclusive?

No. However, your agreement will need the consent of the brokerage(s) you’re working with. Consumers should make an informed choice about the type of relationship they wish to have with a real estate professional. They should also understand the implications of the options available to them.

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Can I buy real estate without entering into a written service agreement?

Yes, as long as the brokerage is not treating you as a client. A brokerage may facilitate your purchase of real estate without entering into a written service agreement. In these cases, the brokerage would treat you, as the buyer, as a customer. This is typical when a buyer is purchasing a new home or condominium, and the brokerage represents the builder.

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Are written Buyer Representation Agreements mandatory?

Yes. Effective July 1, 2014, if you are interested in buying residential property and are the client of a real estate professional in Alberta, you will be asked to sign a written service agreement (buyer representation agreement).

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When I enter into a written service agreement, is there a specific form I will be asked to sign as a buyer?

The answer to this question depends on two factors:

  • are you interested in buying residential property?
  • will you be entering into an exclusive buyer representation relationship?

If you answer “yes” to BOTH of these questions, the agreement must contain the mandatory content as contained in RECA’s Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement.

If you are not interested in residential real estate OR you want a non-exclusive agreement, your real estate professional is not required to use the mandatory content. However, you will be asked to enter into a written agreement that meets the requirements of the Real Estate Act Rules. You can review RECA’s sample non-exclusive buyer representation agreements for more details.

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What services may a real estate professional provide if I am a customer?

If you are a customer, a real estate professional may:

  • show you properties
  • provide real estate statistics and information
  • provide standard form agreements and help you complete them
  • provide the names of other service providers (appraisers, mortgage brokers, etc.)

If you are a customer, a real estate professional may not:

  • provide any services that requirement discretion of judgment
  • give confidential advice
  • advocate on your behalf

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Do I need to sign anything if I want to see a few houses?

It will depend what information you provide to the real estate professional before viewing homes. If or when you start providing confidential information, such as needs, motivation or financial qualification, to the professional, he or she needs to clarify your working relationship—to find out if you want to be treated as a client or a customer.

If you want to be a client, and have that professional represent you, you will need a written buyer representation agreement. The requirement for a written service agreement won’t be triggered simply by visiting an open house, small talk about housing price ranges or property styles, or when a real state professional simply responds to general, factual questions from a buyer or a seller.

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What is the duration of a written service agreement?

The duration of such an agreement is negotiable between you and the brokerage; it could be a day or many months, depending on the specific circumstances.

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If I sign a buyer representation agreement, do I have to pay my real estate professional?

In most real estate transactions, the seller or the transaction pays the real estate fees. There are situations where the seller will not pay the buyer brokerage portion of the fees and your brokerage may ask you to pay in that situation. Your industry professional should discuss this issue with you and alert you if you wish to view one of these properties. Often, the net result of what you pay for the property is not affected by who pays the buyer brokerage portion of the fees.



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