We all tend to be weary of commitment so plenty of homebuyers and agents alike can be hesitant to discuss an agency agreement, often until it's too late. But having a mutually beneficial agreement in place early in the process is valuable to both the client and the agent, for several reasons.
For the homebuyer, a buyer agency agreement ensures that your agent is working on your behalf and will have your best interests in mind throughout the process. Since your agent is the person is advising you on one of the largest purchases you'll ever make, it's important to make sure that they're committed to you from the beginning. It confirms that the agent has no incentive to sell you any one property over another and means that any and all off-market properties can be considered as potential options. The agreement will spell out what you can expect from your agent and any compensation that would be expected to come from you as the client in the event that some or all of the amount due is not being offered by a seller or seller's agent. Understanding the structure of your relationship with your agent from the very beginning makes for a much more straightforward process.
For agents, presenting new clients with a buyer agency agreement when you first begin discussing their home search will ensure that your clients are as committed to working with you as you are to them. Sometimes just having a conversation about the agreement is helpful in determining whether the client and agent are the right fit for one another. It also will allow you to search for and present off-market and for sale by owner properties without having to address how - or if - you'll be compensated for your work. And, having the agreement in place gives you the opportunity to educate your clients on the services you offer, and allows you to outline expectations for them so that everyone is on the same page and can anticipate clear communication throughout their homebuying journey.
After all, very few people enter into a working relationship with an attorney, financial advisor or other professional without having some sort of agreement in place outlining what each party can expect from the other. Real estate should be no different.