Profile picture for jesslsu1

Am I required to have an agent to buy a house in Florida?

I live in south florida and made an offer on a house. In an email I noted that I was working without an agent which would save the buyer money. The sellers agent replied "Florida law is very clear regarding real estate. If we have a home listed for sale and you make an offer with out an agent I have the accountability and the responsibility to you as well as the seller, its called a transaction broker. You not only get one agent at your disposal but 2 ----- ------ and Myself at no cost." I did not ask for this agent to represent me and I don't believe there is a law that says I need or should get an agent, especially two that I don't even know. This guy is coming across (in other communication) as shady. FYI We didn't get an agent bc we weren't looking at other houses. We knew we wanted this one. It's in our neighborhood and we know the owners who let us walk through.
  • January 03 2014 - US
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Answers (6)

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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
a consumer perspective...

Whether or not the seller saves any money if you are unrepresented is strictly between the seller and the listing REA. More specifically, it depends on the wording of the listing agreement. When I sell, I include a clause to address the possible dual-agency scenario you describe. But, it this is not done, it is reasonable to expect that the listing REA will keep both sides of the commission.

I do not believe there is any requirement for you to have your own REA, in Florida or elsewhere. But, if you are unrepresented, it is also not uncommon for the scenario to play out as you described. In-and-of-itself, this is not indication/comment on the trustworthiness of the REA.

Here is a link to the Florida law which outlines Florida prohibition against dual agency, and introduces the notion of a "transaction broker". My guess is that the listing REA is already in a single-agent-relationship with the seller, so they cannot function as a "transaction broker" (my interpretation of the law), and this is why the other REA is being brought into the picture. You'll know this for sure when the second REA presents you with a "single agent notice" as required by Florida statute.

You should note that there is no requirement for you to accept the other REA being brought into the deal. Unless there are other laws addressing this, you should be able to bring your own REA into the picture, even at this time.

There is an older discussion of this aspect of RE in Florida on this thread.

Good luck...
  • January 04 2014
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I don't know if that holds water, but it might. I will tell you that at most new construction sites, you need to work with either your own agent or the "buyer agent" working the site. Even if you just walk in there and want to be unrepresented.

In this instance, it seems to me as if the listing agent is saying - I won't work with buyers, I have someone who does that for me. I frankly don't see the problem; even if the buyer wants to write up their own contract, they have to give it to SOMEBODY . . . 
  • January 04 2014
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Profile picture for hpvanc
Unfortunately, based on state law they may be able to force you to have an agent. As Socal has already said, they probably cannot force you to use the one they are recommending which would allow you to use one of your own choosing. It won't help on this transaction, but you may want to pursue it anyway if you believe you have a right to purchase a property offered on the open market as an unrepresented buyer, to report it to the DOJ Antitrust Division.

Mack has pointed out that it is technically a single commission, and that the "buyer's" agent is compensated as a subagent of the listing agent. This is one of the ways agents have been able to collude on commissions, and should be included in the report you make to the DOJ if you choose to pursue it.
  • January 04 2014
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I would just like to correct a misconception. There's this idea that there are "two sides" to a commission, and that is not the case. The broker earns the commission when they fulfill the terms of the listing agreement. That they may share the commission if a co-broker brings the buyer, but there is but one commission.
  • January 04 2014
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If a house is listed it's the listing agents responsibility to be a dual agent now if you don't have your own agent representing you. That agent is held legally responsible for both parties if anything went wrong during the transaction and either party decided to sue. It's a good idea that you get your own agent to represent you, that way he//she is looking out for your best interest's. It doesn't cost you anything the seller's pay the commission not the buyer's.
  • January 04 2014
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Profile picture for mgannon12

If the home you are interested in is listed with an agent, if you do not have your own agent, so he will represent the whole transaction and keep both sides of the commission (the sale and listing sides).  The reason being that the seller is around bound by a listing agreement with this agent, so he cannot sell his home without him.  I do that many times with my listings, when people contact me directly on my listings and I am able to represent both.  For us is better, because we do not have to share our commission with anyone.  There is nothing wrong with that. 

But, if for some reason, you do not like the seller's agent and do not want to deal with him, so get another Realtor to represent you.  It does not cost you anything, because the seller is the one who pays the commission.  This buyer's agent would write the contract for you, negotiate the price, and make sure that they will not have any hidden clause that might hurt you in the end.  We know where to look to protect our clients.  Hope this helped.  Good luck!

  • January 04 2014
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