Written Service Agreements - Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive

Are you planning on buying a home in Alberta soon? Have you started talking to a real estate professional about what to expect when buying a home in Alberta? Have you been asked to sign a written service agreement (buyer representation agreement)?

Beginning on July 1, 2014, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) requires residential real estate professionals to use written service agreements with their clients – sellers AND buyers. Written service agreements enhance consumer protection to give clarity about the roles and obligations of real estate professionals, and reduce the potential for conflicts and confusion.

The change means if you’re the client of a licensed real estate professional in Alberta, they are going to ask you to sign a written service agreement. You may wish to enter into an exclusive or a non-exclusive buyer representation agreement.

What is the difference between an exclusive and a non-exclusive buyer representation agreement?

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.

Does my buyer representation agreement have to be exclusive?

No. However, your agreement will need the consent of your real estate brokerage(s). 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. 

When I agree to 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:

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. The Alberta Real Estate Association has forms available for its members that contain the mandatory content and meet the requirement to have a written service agreement. Your real estate professional may choose to use a RECA form or one offered by the Alberta Real Estate Association.

If you have no interest in residential real estate OR you want a non-exclusive agreement, your real estate professional is not required to use the mandatory content. Your real estate professional will ask you to enter into a written agreement that meets the requirements of the Real Estate Act Rules. The Real Estate Council of Alberta has sample non-exclusive agreements available on its website, and the real estate professional you’re working with may have some of their own.

Real estate professionals may not be willing to sign a non-exclusive buyer representation agreement with a buyer and that’s their choice, much as it is the buyer’s choice whether he or she wants to sign an exclusive buyer representation agreement.

All written service agreements, whether they are exclusive or non-exclusive, must:

Remember that whether exclusive or non-exclusive, certain aspects of these buyer representations agreements are negotiable –that includes the duration of the agreement and the fees that may or may not be payable by a buyer.

What if I don’t want to enter into a written service agreement?

A real estate professional may not be willing to provide client services and may ask you to sign a customer acknowledgment, which removes their ability to provide advice and maintain loyalty. ‎Alternatively, they may refuse to work with you in any capacity. ‎

The Real Estate Council of Alberta is the independent governing authority that sets, regulates and enforces standards for real estate, mortgage brokerage, property management and real estate appraisal professionals in Alberta. For more information about written service agreements, the Real Estate Council of Alberta or Alberta’s real estate industry, please contact a licensed real estate professional or visit www.reca.ca.