Choosing the Real Estate Agent Who Represents You
When you set about buying a home for the first time, the lay of the land can be a little tricky. It’s worth recalling some familiar sayings, like
All that glitters is not gold; and
Don’t judge a book by its cover; and
Appearances can be deceiving
Likewise, just as “doubletalk” isn’t twice as reliable as “talk,” in the home-buying vernacular, a “dual agency” transaction doesn’t necessarily involve twice as many real estate agents - it can involve just one (or two who are working under the aegis of a single broker).
This can become important for home buyers who sometimes make a strategic decision based solely on what seems like common sense. They see a home or a listing that looks promising, and make the assumption that they will get the best deal by going directly to the property’s listing agent — you know, to get all the information
Straight from the horse’s mouth!
Now in fact, real estate agents are responsible for carrying out a wide array of duties, including staging homes for sale; marketing them; showing the homes to buyers; aiding in negotiations, etc. The real estate agent who listed the property (aka the seller’s agent) is obligated to represent the interests of the seller. Makes perfect sense. And when a prospective buyer chooses to enter negotiations without their own agent to represent their interests, the listing agent remains duty-bound to represent the seller — but now the buyer, also. In the event of a conflict between the interests of buyer and seller, the real estate agent has to represent both — which, as you might imagine, can be tricky.
When you think about how attorneys and real estate agents are similarly duty-bound to their clients, you can see why it usually wouldn’t make sense for a buyer to forego separate representation. It would be like having the same attorney represent both sides in a negotiation. Also, since there is no additional commission charge for employing a buyer’s agent (commissions are customarily split between agents, with both being paid from the seller’s proceeds), most buyers decide that teaming with their own real estate agent will get them the best possible deal. After all,
No one can serve two masters!
Does that mean you as a buyer should never proceed with one real estate agent — in other words, make a ‘dual agency’ transaction? Not quite. Remember,
Never say ‘Never’!
In some cases, it does work out. For instance, if the parties are related (and have the same goals); or if every detail has already been agreed to; or if time is such an overriding factor that it trumps other considerations, then everyone can be well-served by a single real estate agent. In any case, as long as an agent is able to remain scrupulous in not violating any confidences, since each party has the chance to make their own decisions at every point in the transaction, nearly one in ten home sales does wind up as a single-agent transaction.
If you will be on the lookout for a new home this fall, I’d be pleased to put my experience at your service to help find and negotiate the deal. Call me!