Is a Buyer Allowed to Approach a Seller Directly?

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Real estate agent with house model and keys

I put an offer on a house that had competing offers. I later learned that one of the other buyers approached the seller directly instead of going through their real estate professional. Is this allowed?

Yes, this is technically allowed. The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) does not regulate buyers or sellers themselves. Consumers are free to make their own deals for their own property.

However, RECA recommends that consumers always use a licensed real estate professional when trading in real estate.

As a buyer, dealing directly with the seller may allow you to craft your offer to purchase in a way that guarantees the seller’s acceptance, but at what price?

Do you know the current value of the property and what you’re willing to pay? Are you aware of the implications of removing certain conditions in an offer? How can you be sure whether the seller is withholding information that might affect your offer or your experience with the property?

The seller has extensive knowledge about the property. They also want to make the most money on the sale of the property. They are looking out for their own best interests.

The house might look like your dream home on the surface. It might be the ideal size and have the right number of rooms, but what about the things you can’t see? Would it affect your decision to know if a death occurred on the property or if people believe it is haunted?

Do you know where to look for deeper information on the property? Do you know what and who to ask to ensure that what you see is what you’d get? Do you feel confident that you have the knowledge necessary to look out for your best interests?

Real estate professionals are obligated to look out for their clients’ best interests. Working with a real estate professional to facilitate the deal can help you get the answers you need to make a fully informed decision.

Also, it is possible that if you had been working with a real estate agent when you viewed the property—even if the agent doesn’t facilitate the viewing of the house in question—the purchase may still trigger a fee payment obligation if that clause was in your Buyer Representation Agreement. In this case, there may be no benefit to cutting your real estate professional out of the transaction.

Without a licensed real estate professional, you might have no one on your side but yourself. Dealing directly with the seller might get you a place you think you want. By working with a real estate professional, you have a better chance of getting a property you know you want.

You’ve got questions. He’s got answers.

Charles Stevenson is the Registrar at the Real Estate Council of Alberta. Charles knows that buying and selling a home can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. “Ask Charles” is a question and answer column for consumers about buying and selling property in Alberta. If you have a new question for Charles, please email [email protected].