DC REAL ESTATE AGENTS & AGREEMENTS

BUYER AGENCY AND LISTING AGREEMENTS IN WASHINGTON DC

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DC Real Estate Agents & Agreements

What do you need to know about DC real estate agents, agency and agreements?
All Agents Are Not Created Equal
It’s not just that some agents are more talented, skilled, experienced or educated than others. Motivation and dedication, availability, style, work ethic and personality are involved, too. You can’t assess all these important attributes during a short introductory meeting, but your ‘spidey sense,’ combined with a bit of Internet searching, should produce a fairly clear picture.
HONESTY
Does the agent tell you hard truths or play into unrealistic expectations? Working with an agent who educates you about the market, products and methods will help set realistic expectations and better your ability to reach your goals.
ASK
What type of brokerage is the agent affiliated with? Is the agent a full-time agent with a full service agency? Part of a team? If so, will you work with an experienced agent?
ASK
Does the agent have a website? If so, what’s included? Is it local? Informational or generic? Personalized or a cookie-cutter template primarily focused on generating leads from IDX listings? Does it mirror the talking points the agent made during your interview? Does it cater to YOU?
LOOK
Is the agent a member of any online groups or engage in social media interaction? Check out the agent’s comments, posts and blogs to see what kind of information they provide.
LOOK
What are others saying about the agent? Not just testimonials on the agent’s website, but blog comments, ratings and reviews on consumer-related sites such as Yelp, Zillow and Trulia. If an agent doesn’t register themselves on sites that allow objective reviews, ask why. No one can be expected to have perfect reviews from every client and some people just don’t believe there is such a thing as “five star service” but an agent with no reviews at all really leaves you guessing.
LOOK
Traditional methods such as researching an agent’s complaint history and the number of transactions the agent handles are advised. Agents with the most transactions may not provide the personal attention you’ll want for your transaction. Agents with too few transactions may be short on experience and incapable of providing you with expert representation.
GHOSTS
Is the agent a “ghost?” It’s almost impossible these days not to have some type of mention on Internet search engines if you’re active in the business, so if the agent you’re considering is not showing up, you may wonder if they have the experience level necessary for your transaction, whether they are able to drive traffic to your listing or network with other agents to show you the best listings before everyone else is bidding, and/or if they’re a full time, full service agent or just someone who dabbles on the side.
REALTOR
Designations can show that an agent has really gone the extra mile to become an expert in a certain area… or that the agent is really good at attending classes to obtain every possible designation. The designation of “Realtor” is an important one used by real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors. Realtors must subscribe to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, which offers added protection and quality of service for the client.
RESPONSE
Does the agent return your calls, texts and emails in a timely manner? Are they including you in their schedule or asking you to do your own searches and and attend open houses instead of touring? Buyers and sellers all have different needs, but your agent should do more than function as a human key and paperwork facilitator. Find a proactive partner, not a paper pusher.
Types of Listing Agreements & Terms
Open Listing
Owners can sell their home themselves under the terms of this non-exclusive agreement. They may have listings with more than one brokerage. Commission is paid to the agency who is the procuring cause (brings a ready, willing and able buyer who makes an offer on the property). Since the owner is unrepresented, they are not paying a broker on their side of the transaction. Should the owners find the buyer themselves, no commission is due. Full service real estate brokerages, therefore, are not motivated to accept open listings.
Exclusive Agency Listing
The broker will represent the owners but the owners may still sell the property themselves and avoid paying commission . The broker may cooperate with other brokerages to bring in a buyer and the listing commission is split between the two brokerages. Exceptions and deadlines may be included in the agreement.
Terms & Conditions to Consider
Commission Term(s) of listing Price, flexibility and bottom line Selling agent commission bonuses and incentives; who will pay them? Cancellation Expiration Showing restrictions & showing contact Marketing & advertising: Venues and who will pay costs of print advertising and the photography for listing? Staging: Which staging company will you use and who will pay the cost? If you’re staging yourself, what’s expected? Open houses: How often? What results are expected? Who will pay any additional compensation such as agent bonuses and gifts?
The listing agent as your buyer agent
Will there be a commission discount on the listing for obtaining the buyer business? Is the agent adept as a buyer agent? Ask all the questions you’d ask of any buyer agent Outline your expectations as a buyer, timing, pre-qualification and talk strategy.
Multiple Agencies
As a seller, it is also possible to use more than one agency to list your home, though the listing agreement used must be for the jurisdiction where the property is located. It may be difficult, however, to get brokerages to agree to a multiple agency agreement. Good agents put a great deal of time, effort and expense into your home search and/or sale and want to be guaranteed they’ll be paid for their work.
Terms
In a listing agreement, commission percentage (default, FISBO or commission disparity), and other monetary terms Dual Agency, Designated Agency, Single Agent Dual Agency are negotiable.
Type of Property
The type of real estate can cover a number of different real estate types such as residential, commercial, farm or vacant land. Location can be any location in the DC Metro area.
Location
Location can be any location in the DC Metro area.
What's Negotiable
In a listing agreement, Commission percentage (default, FISBO or commission disparity), and other monetary terms can be negotiated.
Exclusive Right-to-Sell Listing
This is the most common form of agreement, it gives the broker the exclusive right to earn a commission by representing the owner and bringing a buyer, either through another brokerage or directly. The owner pays both the listing and selling broker fees. The owner cannot sell the property herself without paying a commission, unless an exception is noted in the contract.
Buyer Agency Agreements
Buyer Agency
In addition to standard terms of the agency agreement, you’ll want to inquire about how FSBO properties will be handled, how discrepancies in commission will be handled, types of representation, term of agreement, locations and ancillary fees like “admin” and “additional commission” charges. Ask your agent to explain these provisions and their implications for your transaction
Buyer Agency Agreement Types
Designated Agency
Agent who is designated to represent either the buyer or the seller in a dual agency transaction.
Multiple Agents
As a buyer, you can choose to have one agent covering Virginia real estate, one covering DC real estate and one covering MD real estate if you’re looking at property in all those places and you think working with different agents will benefit you. Agents may choose not to work with you under this scenario as it becomes a complex situation requiring good communication on the part of each agent and the buyer. In DC, neighborhood boundaries sometimes overlap state lines, such as in Chevy Chase, and those lines are not easily defined on listings or during tours. This can lead to disputes and violations of agreements.
Dual Agency
One agent from Brokerage A represents one party to the transaction (either the buyer or the seller) and another agent from the same brokerage represents the other party. Two agents from the same brokerage but representing opposite sides. Designated Agency Agent who is designated to represent either the buyer or the seller in a dual agency transaction.
Single Dual Agency
The real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. Once this occurs, the agent is restricted to providing “ministerial acts” only for both parties. We think you hired your agent expecting more, so we don’t provide Single Dual Agency service. Transaction AgentsAgents who do not owe a fudicary duty to either the buyer or the seller. They do not represent either side. Instead, they facilitate the transaction by providing the paperwork for one or both sides and overseeing the transaction in the most basic terms.
Single Agency
An agent from brokerage A represents the seller and another agent from brokerage B represents the buyer in a transaction.
Transaction Agents
Transaction AgentsAgents who do not owe a fudicary duty to either the buyer or the seller. They do not represent either side. Instead, they facilitate the transaction by providing the paperwork for one or both sides and overseeing the transaction in the most basic terms. Virginia and DC law requires buyers and agents working together in an agency relationship to define terms of their agreement in writing before property is shown or a substantive discussion of a property takes place. The purpose of the law is to ensure that obligations of both parties are clear and mutually agreed upon, and that the agreement begins at the start of the relationship. The scope of the written agreement is negotiable, but it must include a list of services the agent will deliver, a schedule of fees associated with those services and a definite termination date.
Your Agency Relationship
Get What You Give
When you decide to work with an agent, think of him/her as a partner in your real estate transaction. In doing so, you’ll create mutual trust and loyalty, shared interest in a common objective, and enthusiasm on the part of your agent to help you reach your goals. This requires sharing any relevant financial information that could affect your transaction, your game plan, intentions, timeline, goals and obstacles. It also includes playing by the rules in obtaining a pre-approval from a qualified lender before touring, signing an agency agreement that protects the brokerage and you, and refraining from contacting listing agents or sellers while under representation. Communication and trust are the most important component of a successful relationship between client and real estate agent.
Divorcing Your Agent
What happens when things aren’t working out as you’d hoped? Maybe there’s a personality conflict, or you just don’t have confidence in your agent’s ability to find you the home you want. Whatever the problem, here are some suggestions on saving or ending your relationship with your agent: Evaluate objectively how the process has gone. Is it really failing? If so, what part did you play in that failure? What part did the agent play? Make a list and share it with the agent. Sit down and discuss the issues diplomatically but honestly. Explain what you were hoping for when the relationship began and how you’d like things to go forward. Listen to the agent’s side and understand what he or she is trying to get across. Ask and answer the question “Where do we go from here?” If you’re both unwilling to sever the relationship but agree it needs to change, create an action plan that you both buy into, and agree on a specific time periods to reach goals. Detail how you’d like communication to work and review your home purchase criteria. Are your goals reasonable and achievable? If things haven’t improved as agreed in the designated time period, proceed to the next step. Make an appointment with the agent’s broker, who actually holds, and is responsible for, your listing or buyer agency. You don’t have to throw the agent under the bus (unless you feel it is truly deserved) to make a change. Simply say your goals and styles don’t seem to be the same and you’d like to work with someone who has the ability to better meet your needs. The broker should handle the rest. If the agent is also the broker and talks fail, review the terms of any written agreement you have. If you’re a seller, request a release from the listing agreement. Be sure to get the release in writing. If the broker refuses, advise the broker that you’ll consult an attorney and, if merited, file a complaint against the broker with the broker’s affiliated associations and real estate board. If the broker still refuses to release you, do consult an attorney. If you’re a buyer, ask the office broker to reassign your agreement to another agent within the office. Being “divorced” by your agent Your agent can also choose to “divorce” you, too. Sometimes clients aren’t team players and a real estate agent realizes that the business relationship is counter-productive. Agents don’t have to be BFFs with every client–or even like them for that matter–to do a great job, but they do want to feel there is mutual respect and motivation to reach a common, realistic and achievable goal. If an agent feels they are being used, mistreated or misled, expect a swift end to come of the relationship. Agents can end a client relationship in a number of ways and some are more kind than others. The most confusing for clients is when the agent simply stops interacting (termed “abandonment” in the industry). The best scenario is for the parties to meet and go through the process outlined in Divorcing Your Agent (above). Focus on the agent’s experience with the circumstances and ask for an explanation of why a positive outcome is not foreseen. Most agents won’t walk away from a promising client, especially after investing a good amount of time, energy and expense, so if this does happen to you, it’s probably time to take a good hard look at your expectations, opinions and behaviors. Make necessary adjustments before continuing (if the agent is willing), or before signing on with your next agent.
Referrals And The Win-Win
Sooner or later, you’ll want to buy or sell again. Having a trusted ally who already knows your property, needs, likes and dislikes puts you ahead of the game. So keep in touch! If your agent has done a good job for you, reward him/her with referrals, online recommendations and shout outs on sites such as Yelp! Trulia and Zillow. From time to time, email your agent for property updates so you can keep track of your home’s value. If you’re considering major improvements, drop your agent a line to ask which ones will net you the best ROI on resale down the road. There are many ways your agent can benefit you after your transaction is completed. Don’t hesitate to ask!
New Construction Contracts
DC NEW CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS
Written by attorneys representing developers, these contracts differ substantially from the GCAAR purchase contract. Each one is individual to the related developer or project. Because buyers have fewer ‘rights’ built into these agreements, it’s very important to work with an agents who understands new construction and has experience in the builder realm.

Why Work With The Isaacs Team

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Susan and Alex are superstar agents. There is no one else I’d want on my side of a real estate transaction. My wife and I first met Susan in 2010 when she helped us buy our first home, a condo. We were so impressed by her deep local knowledge, tenacious negotiating, 24/7 efforts on our behalf, and clear guidance on the home-buying process that we didn’t consider going with anyone else when we decided to buy a 3-BR in our dream neighborhood. We were not disappointed. After a few weeks, we found the perfect house at the perfect listing price. We knew it would be competitive, but Susan and Alex provided expert advice on how to make the offer, and in the end, we provided terms just attractive enough to end the process in our favor, but no higher than final appraisal and just above what their agent later admitted was their line. They also did a fabulous job of staging and selling our condo, which netted $30K over selling price after six strong offers during just two-days of being on the market. They get amazing results and are a blast to work with. 
Susan is sooo responsive–pretty much 24-7. She made what could have been a difficult situation very easy to navigate. I couldn’t have bought my property without her, I’m sure. I recommend Susan VERY HIGHLY. She is a delight to work with.
We expected an extremely stressful experience when we decided to sell our home of over 25 years and buy a condo, especially because we live nearly 3000 miles away, yet the Isaacs Team was beyond exceptional in their competent guidance, attention to detail, follow through, and simply doing what they said they would do. While other realtors said, "this is what you need to do;" this team said, "we can do this for you!" Our process was smooth and quick, and they designed a strategy and negotiated a sale well above our asking price; and a purchase price below asking - both in the same market. They are also a pleasure to work with in every respect. Please know that you can turn this difficult personal event over to true professionals and emerge with happy results and fast friends. We highly recommend this team in every regard.
Susan and Alex are superstar agents. There is no one else I’d want on my side of a real estate transaction. My wife and I first met Susan in 2010 when she helped us buy our first home, a condo. We were so impressed by her deep local knowledge, tenacious negotiating, 24/7 efforts on our behalf, and clear guidance on the home-buying process that we didn’t consider going with anyone else when we decided to buy a 3-BR in our dream neighborhood. We were not disappointed. After a few weeks, we found the perfect house at the perfect listing price. We knew it would be competitive, but Susan and Alex provided expert advice on how to make the offer, and in the end, we provided terms just attractive enough to end the process in our favor, but no higher than final appraisal and just above what their agent later admitted was their line. They also did a fabulous job of staging and selling our condo, which netted $30K over selling price after six strong offers during just two-days of being on the market. They get amazing results and are a blast to work with.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Susan did the work of both the buyer’s and seller’s agent, spotting and solving problems using a powerful combination of intuition and experience. She brought her impressive professional network to bear on one problem to such great effect that the buyer’s lender gave me–the seller–a closing cost credit. When does that ever happen? 
In today’s market in this area, you cannot rely on luck to get you that perfect place or a great deal – you need to have an agent who knows the market cold, is aggressive, and effective – Susan is all of those things and more.
Susan was an invaluable part of my new home purchase from beginning to end. She quickly understood what I liked, previewed properties and showed me homes that fit our criteria. She made herself extremely available through the process and worked with us through every aspect of the transaction. Susan was so much fun as an agent that she took the anxiety out of the home buying process. I would work with Susan again in a heartbeat.
When a property popped up in a neighborhood that she and I had scouted, Susan was there within the hour and insisted it was worth us leaving work to check out. If we had a less responsive Realtor, I am convinced that we would not have our amazing house now. Susan’s advice is invaluable. You need a Realtor that knows her stuff. And Susan does!
Susan not only worked hard to help my wife and me find the perfect place, she was a dogged (and effective) negotiator on our behalf once we zeroed-in. She knows the market and knows the area, but best of all she knows how to play hardball and get things done—exactly what we needed in an agent.
Susan not only worked hard to help my wife and me find the perfect place, she was a dogged (and effective) negotiator on our behalf once we zeroed-in. She knows the market and knows the area, but best of all she knows how to play hardball and get things done—exactly what we needed in an agent.
Susan is a true client advocate who worked tirelessly on my behalf to ensure my purchasing goals were met. We hit some seller stumbling blocks along the way, and Susan used her experience and knowledge to ensure every box was checked on my behalf – She was my personal Bulldog. Her experience in the builder realm proved extremely valuable during the entire process.
In today’s market in this area, you cannot rely on luck to get you that perfect place or a great deal – you need to have an agent who knows the market cold, is aggressive, and effective – Susan is all of those things and more.
Susan responded immediately and impressed me with her patience and almost supernatural ability to find the perfect place for me despite some significant constraints (time, location, finances). I was not an easy case, but she never made me feel like I was a ‘burden’ or ‘not her first priority’. Above all, she treated me with respect and honesty.
Susan is knowledgeable, friendly and very responsive–she got back to us immediately to answer any of our questions at any hour. Even as first-time homebuyers who could be somewhat indecisive at times, she understood what we were looking for in a home, didn’t hesitate to answer our questions and always had our best interests in mind. Her warm, welcoming attitude and confident guidance really took the stress out of a process that, before we met Susan, we had assumed would be overwhelming and beyond our reach.
My husband and I loved working with Susan and Alex. This was my 9th real estate purchase but the first time that I have used The Isaacs Team. They were the best agents I have worked with and I can not accurately describe how impressed we were! They were amazing and extremely detailed. They went over and above for us in neighborhood research, service, and contract negotiations. I found them to be extremely responsive, always available, and 100% competitent in their knowledge of the markets they serve. I was really impreseed by their extensive knowledge of the real estate contract. I must say that I was incredibly impressed. They made the process easy and held our hands through difficult negotiations. I will be their client for life!

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