Agents working for buyers have three possible choices:
In Ohio, your agent, at first meeting is required to give you an informational brochure that outlines the three basic types of agency relationships that may be entered into as well as how the agent's broker will work with both you and other brokers during a transaction. This brochure is called a "Consumer Guide To Agency Relationships" and your agent will ask you to sign it simply as proof that it was presented. It is not a contract, and in no way obligates you to work with that particular agent or his/her broker.
Further, in Ohio, before an offer is made, the agent is also required by law to specifically identify the role of the agents and brokerages in the transaction you are about to enter into. This is done with an instrument called the "Agency Disclosure Statement". Your agent will also ask you to sign this document as proof that it was presented and that you have a thorough understanding of who is representing you and how you are being represented. The Disclosure Statement is NOT a contract, and, in no way, does it obligate you to co-operate with, nor pay a fee to any agent or brokerage s/he works for.
It's important to know that you are not required to accept the way the agent wants to represent you. If, for example, you do not want your agent to be a dual agent (representing both you and the seller) you may find another agent to represent you exclusively, or have one appointed to represent you.
Here is a summary of the three basic types of agency representation in Ohio:
As a buyer you may, of course, choose to represent yourself on properties listed with a real estate brokerage. In that instance the broker will represent the seller and you are on your own to represent your own best interests. Because the listing agent has a duty of full disclosure only to the seller, you should not share any information with the listing agent that you may not want the seller to know.
For more information on agency law, or if you feel that an agent has broken his/her fiduciary trust, in Ohio, you can contact the Ohio Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing at (614) 466-4100 or on their website www.com.state.oh.us
Look for REALTORS® whose name carries the designation of ABR (Accredited Buyers Agent). The ABR designation is awarded to REALTOR® practitioners who complete a comprehensive course in buyer representation.
Builders commonly require that if an outside agent is to used, they must be present the first time a prospective purchaser visits a site before payment of commission will even be discussed. At times, when buyers find the development through a developer's advertisement first without the help of an agent, builders can refuse to pay any commission regardless of how helpful an agent may become later in the process. In the go-go market of the first half of the decade, builders often disdained the use of outside agents, now, however they are offering rich incentives to attract agents' buyers.
It is advisable to call the development first and inquire about their policy on compensating REALTORS® if you are using one. Be wary of those who say they won't. It may mean their ethics aren't up to standards that a REALTOR will bring to the transaction.