There is a law in the state of Georgia, enacted in 1994 through the Brokerage Relationships in Real Estate Transactions Act (BRRETA), which defines and regulates the relationships between real estate brokers and the public. Under this law, you, as buyer, may have one of two relationships with your real estate agent.
As a Client
By signing a written agreement with your agent, who is acting as a representative of his or her broker, you enter into a broker-client relationship. The mostly commonly used agreement is called an Exclusive Buyer Brokerage Agreement. Under this contract, you are agreeing:
1) to work only with that agent for the time period specified;
2) to be available to meet with the agent to see properties;
3) to respond to the agent in a timely manner;
4) to provide accurate information regarding your ability to obtain a loan;
5) to inspect and otherwise become familiar with any potentially adverse conditions relating to the property
or the neighborhood of the property;
6) to become familiar with the purchase and sales agreement that you will sign and to comply with its stated
duties and deadlines; and
7) to pay that agent the specified commission, should the seller not be providing for the commission (which is
most often the case.)
The agent, in turn, has the obligation to:
1) attempt to locate property suitable to the buyer for purchase;
2) assist in preparing and negotiating the contract;
3) keep in confidence any information shared by buyer, as long as doing so doesn’t violate any laws;
4) inform the buyer of everything the agent may know about a particular property, including information on
comparable sales in the area; and
5) comply with all applicable laws.
This agreement may be cancelled by either party, buyer or agent, with written notification to the other. However, the agreement does state that should the buyer purchase a property originally shown to him or her by that agent within a specified number of days following the end of the Exclusive Buyer Brokerage Agreement, that agent is still due a commission.
As a Customer
Without a signed, written agreement between buyer and broker, the buyer is merely the agent’s customer. In the broker-customer relationship, the agent is allowed to show houses to the buyer and to provide “ministerial” services such as referring the buyer to lenders or inspectors, filling in the purchase and sales agreement exactly as instructed by the buyer, submitting the offer, and facilitating communication between the seller or seller’s agent and the buyer. Regardless of whether working with a client or customer, an agent must be honest and disclose any negative information known about a given property. But without a written buyer brokerage agreement, the agent is under no obligation to bring all of his or her expertise to bear on the transaction nor to keep the buyer’s information in confidence.