What are Buyer Agency Relationships?

October 4, 2022

Post by Daniel Maurer

Sometimes there can be confusion regarding the relationship between a buyer and a real estate Broker, or agency relationship. This post will clear that up and explain why brokers need to sit down with new clients to discuss what they do and why agency commitments matter.


Plainly speaking, a real estate buyer's broker represents the buyer in the transaction while a seller's broker represents the seller. In Illinois, licensed brokers and agents must complete pre-license training as well as ongoing continuing education and are held to high standards of ethics and conduct set forth by IDFPR. So even if you have bought and sold homes before, a Broker is always going to be able to provide insights that you may not have considered. Also, the seller pays both Brokers, so there is no reason to go it alone!

A legal agency relationship is important because of a concept called PROCURING CAUSE (PC), which is the action that started the process of a purchase. This is important because whomever is responsible for starting the chain of events that lead to a sale is the only Realtor that can legally help you in your purchase. For example, going to an open house without your agent and not informing the listing agent that you are represented, can cause a PC issue. Legally speaking, the buyer’s agent may not be able to help you in your purchase because the listing agent’s open house could be the PC for that sale.

Another example of Procuring Cause could be accidentally viewing a house through Zillow or Redfin. If you see a house on one of these consumer websites, you need to remember to CALL YOUR AGENT to view it, NEVER click “See Property” or “Schedule a Showing.” When you do this, you are asking a completely different agent (almost never the listing agent) to show you the property. At that point, your existing Broker cannot help you with that house, as they were not legally the Procuring Cause for you finding the property, you’ll be forced to work with the stranger assigned to you by Zillow or Redfin. A representation agreement with your agent may help to some extent, so consider a partnership agreement with your agent.


Most real estate brokers work extremely hard for their clients and are only paid when buyers and sellers close on properties. So, if an agent works for 20-30 hours on a client, they are working for free, unless something is sold. Because of this, Brokers need to protect themselves and their time by utilizing documents that form a commitment between themselves and their clients. The Buyer Agency Agreement is one way that a realtor can do this. By signing this document, the client agrees to work exclusively with the Broker for a specified period, typically six months. This creates a partnership of sorts between the two parties and establishes a level of trust. As a result, both the broker and the client can feel confident that they are working towards a common goal. You can understand why a Broker, trying to support a family would want to protect their time, it's how we make a living! Unfortunately, it happens all the time, and it’s almost always an accident, but it's disheartening to work hard for someone who accidentally creates a second agency relationship with someone else. It’s happened to us all, after hours/days/weeks you are legally cut out of the sale because your client contacted Zillow, not understanding how agency relationships work.

For these reasons, please consider creating a legal agency partnership agreement with your buyer’s agent. Knowing they are legally protected will help them feel confident that you are all working toward the same goal. Being a Broker is like any other career, we do it because we love it, but it's also how we support our families. So while casually reaching out to another agent may not seem like a big deal, it can greatly affect our ability to help you, so don’t call Zillow, call your agent! 😊




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