The American Homeowners Foundation (AHF), the independent national nonprofit consumer education organization serving American homeowners since 1984, has published a free guide to help home buyers avoid the many traps related to buyer representation. These traps have to lead to thousands of lawsuits and caused many home buyers to pay thousands of dollars more than necessary. AHF has been warning home buyers about them for many years in its books and newsletters. According to AHF and the National Association of Realtors© (NAR), the problem is getting worse. For that reason the Foundation has compiled “The Home Buyers Guide to Real Estate Representation”, which it is providing free as a public service to American home buyers.
The process of buying a home has gotten far more complex over the years. One area that has become very complicated is buyer representation. Most home buyers deal with real estate agents and brokers in the course of their home purchase. Depending on the real estate agent and broker’s business model and the nature of the home buyers’ agreements, if any, with a real estate agent or broker, the agent and brokerage maybe 100% on the buyer’s side, 100% on the seller’s side, somewhere in between, or a knowledgeable but largely disinterested third party.
The types of buyer agency business models have proliferated in recent years. They range from exclusive buyer agency, which does provide full representation to buyers, to many variations of dual agency, under which home buyers may be denied assistance in negotiating the lowest price and best terms. The alternatives available to home buyers in terms of buyer agency business models can have a major impact on the cost of a home. The problem is compounded by widespread noncompliance with state laws requiring that real estate agents and brokers make it clear who they actually represent and what services they may or may not provide.
Today many home buyers falsely believe that their real estate agent is helping them to negotiate the lowest price and most favorable terms, but in fact their real estate agent and brokerage is not, and maybe helping the seller get the highest price. According to NAR’s 2007 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearly half of home buyers wrote contract offers to purchase homes without ever having been told by their agent that they were not helping the buyer negotiate the lowest price and most favorable terms.
To make an informed decision in selecting a real estate agent to work with, home buyers need to know in advance exactly what representation they will or will not be receiving from a real estate agent and brokerage. To help them, The Home Buyers Guide to Real Estate Representation includes a questionnaire home buyer can use to find that out, as well as obtain other background information that will help them pick the most qualified real estate agent. Home buyers can receive a free digital copy by sending an e-mail to and typing “Free Home Buyers Guide” in the subject line. They can receive a free printed copy by mailing a stamped self-addressed envelope with 3 ounces of affixed postage to: AHF Free Home Buyers Guide, 6776 Little Falls Rd., Arlington, VA 22213.
The American Homeowners Foundation publishes books, model contracts, special studies and other helpful tools for home buyers and sellers and current homeowners. The Foundation’s website (www.AmericanHomeowners.org) contains much useful free information that American homeowners will find helpful in home buying, selling, remodeling, financing, and related activities.