As long as a real estate agent puts in any effort on your behalf, you may be forced to pay their commission, even without a signed BRA.
A recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision (Homelife Maple Realty et al v Singh et al, 2021 ONSC 4743) shows why. The lack of a signed BRA was deemed irrelevant because of the amount of work a real estate agent did to try to match two brothers and their spouses to the acreage they desired.
A BRA was drafted, but not yet signed when the first offer was made in spring 2014. That, and several other offers and counter offers, were rejected. By fall 2014, the brothers had decided to take a break.
But in spring 2015, the acreage came back on the market. This time, the brothers made an offer directly to the seller’s real estate agent. That offer was accepted, and the seller’s agent was paid a commission.
When their initial real estate agent discovered the sale, he complained to the court that the brothers had been unjustly enriched. The court found the brothers had continued using his services despite not signing the draft BRA, and used the money they saved by not paying his commission to improve their offer to the seller.
The agent’s expectation of being compensated was reasonable, the court ruled. The brothers were ordered to pay the agent, and negotiate a settlement for court costs.