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Found a great home with our realtor, but she is also the seller's agent... what to do?

Hi

My husband and I really like our realtor, but find ourselves in a tricky situation since she is also the seller's agent.   We had gone through one sale with her, but had to back out because the house would not pass FHA appraisal.

Can we ask for comparables through her?  We have already done some here on Zillow.  Any recommendations??

Thanks in advance for any advice!

-JP
  • January 21 2010 - Lansing
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Answers (40)

Dump that agent and get an Exclusive Buyer Agent.  You don't need non-representation (which is what half-representation is) on the most important transaction of your life.

You can Google for an EBA in your area - or find one by going to www.naeba.org     They can never get into dual agency conflict of interest situations.  (Most people are unaware that so-called buyer agents can also get into DA.... as they are their company list property for sale)

We cover the Chicago area  www.buyerbrokerchicago.com as an Exclusive Buyer Agency
  • March 10 2010
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It is so refreshing to see so many other Realtors taking the same point of view as I do as far as not representing both the buyer and seller.
Plain and simply as this agent to refer you to someone else. 
  • March 08 2010
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I never recommend Dual Agency and I refuse to practice it. There is no way that even the most well-intentioned and ethical agent can possibly represent both buyer and seller to the highest degree possible. I highly recommend using other representation if you purchase a home listed by your current agent. Your agent should certainly understand the possible ramifications and your concerns and she could possibly even recommend a different agent in this particular case.
  • February 13 2010
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Dual Agency - cannot be beneficial for anyone - either buyer or seller, because then you cannot advocate interests either one and its very tricky and conflicting. Me personally - I never do Dual agency, because I like to give my best service to my client and dual agent just not able to do that.
So I would suggest getting your own representation if you want your interests to be represented, because in your situation they are not.

  • February 12 2010
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Some agents prefer not to have a "Dual Agent" that represents both the buyer and the seller.  It's very difficult to keep both parties interests at heart.  You can ask her to refer you to another agent for representation or find another agent to represent you.  Or, if you feel comfortable, you could use that agent for the transaction.   A buyers agent would represent your interest only!
  • February 12 2010
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If "your Realtor" would release you to use another agent to represent you the first thing they would do if there were really advocating would be to look at the situation from the beginning - including determining if there was a house on the market that you might prefer to this one.  Your agent already had you in one deal that "would not pass FHA appraisal".  Most experienced agents should know if a house would pass an FHA appraisal - that means condition and price.  It is not rocket science.  When the last house didn't pass what did the agent do to try to get the seller to adjust the price or do repairs. Sometimes they just won't but in this market it is a good bet they will - if it is possible.

There are no guarantees with any agent but common sense says almost always:

Experienced is better than inexperienced and an agent that is an advocate is better than one that is either an adversary or is a dual agent.

Your agent can provide comparables but she can't help you analyze them or tell you how to use them to support your position because that would hurt the seller's position and she is representing the seller too. She can not be proactive in helping you find ways to get the seller to lower her price. She can not advise you to ditch this and go look at another property that might be better for you.

A real buyer's agent can do those things.

 

 
  • February 11 2010
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Are you planning to make a full price offer?  The main issue I can see with dual agency takes place during negotiations.  If the seller has listed the property and does not have another offer, and you want to make a full price offer and do not expect any problems during inspection, then if you like your agent and trust her, I would go ahead and let her represent you.  

She should be more then willing to provide you with comparables, and if you want them from an independant party I am sure another agent would be willing to check them for you.

But if you have any qualms about her, or the house, it would probably be better to make the offer through a different agent.

  • February 11 2010
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>>>guiding a seller with a CMA in hand on pricing is far different than knowig how low they will go.<<<

JK,
If the house is priced correctly, why should the seller accept a low-ball offer???

The listing agent's responsibility is to bring the best possible price for the seller - not to sell the property to the first buyer that shows up on the doorstep.

  • February 09 2010
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Viv, guiding a seller with a CMA in hand on pricing is far different than knowig how low they will go. Just as providing a CMA to a buyer does not suggest I know how high they might go.

Paul, again, there are no guarantees having a so called advocate either. What guarantee is there that any agent will faithfully perform their duties each and every time? How often have you or anybody else been on one side of a transaction and had to deal with a total nincompoop? How about the many times we hear things from the other agent that we should not hear? It happens all the time. How does any buyer know they got a better deal?

The original poster likes their agent and has probably confided with her more than they should have. Now they see a house that is also listed by the same agent. No matter what happens, the agent "knows" things about both principals. Even if the OP hired another agent, the former agent cannot reveal confidences previously obtained.

  • February 09 2010
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JK said, " I wonder, why it is, so few openly admit that it "can" be effective and "can" produce results single agency "might" not be able to produce? "

I agree that dual agency will produce a different result than single agency.  Indeed,  if a buyer uses an advocate (buyer's agent) they are extremely likely to get a better result than if they use a dual agent that is unable to work to get them a lower price, better terms etc -- because that (as a matter of law) would violate a dual agent's duty to not favor one party over the other.

 

 
  • February 09 2010
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>>>I never want to know how much they will pay or how little they will accept. Never. This more than any other thing I feel will keep us as agents honest.<<<

?????

One of the responsibilities of the listing agent is to help the seller to price the property correctly.

One of the responsibilities of the BUYER agent is to make sure the property is priced CORRECTLY.... and certainly NOT over-priced

(buyers like when the property is under-priced, but that's off the topic).

Why would you NOT advise your client about the price????

Oh, you are the DUAL agent.... too bad for your clients.....disclosed or not....





  • February 09 2010
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"You have to stir this pot vigorously to elicit any educational commentary."

Agreed, yet somehow I stand alone on this subject, or at least openly on Zillow I do. Considering the many practicioners of dual agency or any other term used to mean the same thing, I wonder, why it is, so few openly admit that it "can" be effective and "can" produce results single agency "might" not be able to produce? That's all, "can & might" rather than debating the subject in absolutes.

I'm curious to know what the OP did?

  • February 09 2010
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>>>An agent who takes an over priced listing (one that will not appraise) <<<

Jkonstant,

With the new appraisal rules, the appraisers are often out of the area, they do NOT know the inventory.... and sometimes match the appraisal to the contract price.

Goodbye "appraisal" defence.
  • February 09 2010
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There are quite a few agents that would love to cloud the difference between a buyer using a dual agent and a buyer's agent.

It is quite simple:

  buyer's agent = advocacy, 

  Dual agent=equal treatment of both sides 

Dual agency requires 'fairness' - not 'representation' - and it requires the disclosure of information required by law. It does NOT require (or even allow) proactively seeking out information that will help a buyer to the seller's detriment. 

Buyer agency requires proactive advocacy and due diligence.

If you want to understand buyer agency - understand the term "proactive advocacy".

    


 
 
 
 
  • February 09 2010
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jk
You have to stir this pot vigorously to elicit any educational commentary.
  • February 09 2010
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How often do the acts of one agent (where there are two) adversely affect their client? Often they do so innocently, but we all know it happens since we are not all equal as agents. An agent who takes an over priced listing (one that will not appraise)  should be intelligent enough to know that a dual agency situation could put them in a difficult position and relay this to the seller at listing time as well as making it clear in this case that there will be no possibility of the agent acting as a dual agent. (not tomentionm they ain't getting that kind of money)  no matter who reps the buyer.)We can provide CMA's for anybody. They are not to be cherry picked for our own needs or the needs of clients or customers.

One of the very first things I have always done, regardless of how or what agency relationship is or may come to pass is explain to the client/customer that I never want to know how much they will pay or how little they will accept. Never. This more than any other thing I feel will keep us as agents honest. If we don't know, we can't possibly tell.

Come on Hamp, you know as well as I do that not only was the "cuckold assistant" comment unnecessary, it is also untrue. I cannot disagree with being well paid though.

  • February 09 2010
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In the 9 years that I've been in this industry, I acted as a dual agent on 2 occasions. Both transactions went well, however It was a disclosure party. I documented everything, and told everyone everything...I still have both files and wondered how I did it.

last summer a buyer asked me to represent him in another dual agency, (my listing) I avoided him like the plague...didn't do it....
  • February 08 2010
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>>>The idea that an agent acting in a dual agenct capacity cannot perform a CMA is foreign to me. <<<

Jkonstant,

Are you trying to say that if the house is over-priced because the listing agent gave in to the seller's pressure to price it higher.... now, that listing agent is going to prepare a CMA for the buyer... an actual CMA of that home.... to educate the buyer the property is over-priced???

Or there are plans to build power lines nearby, or the "open space" in the back was actually zoned a shopping center.....

Or the buyer puts unreasonable pressures on the seller for price adjustments or repairs....

Either way that dual agent will be disloyal to one of the parties, and will provide full representation to neither party.  

The dual agent will have one goal: settlement day and she will do everything for that settlement day to happen. 

One has to be very naive or dishonest, or both, to think that dual agency is in the best interest of the seller or the best interest of the buyer.    
  • February 08 2010
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I think the whole argument for Exclusive Buyers Agency revolves around the inherent conflict of interests of acting as a dual agent. You can not zealously advocate for both sides.

I've never heard it stated much better than this;

My read on dual agency is that, essentially, the buyer has bought out, with the Seller's commission, the agent's representational loyalty to the Seller.

Mack McCoy, I agree fully. A dual agent is no one's agent. They certainly aren't both parties agent. They become a well paid cuckold assistant.
  • February 08 2010
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That's only part of the argument, jkonstant. Another part is that the dual agent, at least in Washington State, is instructed:

"To take no action that is adverse or detrimental to either party's interest in a transaction"

No action. How many actions does an agent take in a transaction that can be construed as being adverse or detrimental to one party or the other?

My read on dual agency is that, essentially, the buyer has bought out, with the Seller's commission, the agent's representational loyalty to the Seller.

Instead, why do we not simply continue to represent the Seller, and treat the buyer as a Customer?
  • February 08 2010
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The entire argument that only an exclusive buyer's agency relationship can work is based on the concept that buyers are incapable of being responsible for their own actions, incapabable of negoatiating their own positions and keeping things confidential.

I can accept the idea that many people should have their own agent, but the fact remains that there are no guarantees they will actually outperform a dual agent. The idea that an agent acting in a dual agenct capacity cannot perform a CMA is foreign to me. The only real things a dual agent cannot reveal are matter of confidence including how high or low either side may go. Ideally, neither side would reveal this to begin with.

  • February 08 2010
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jp234,

Dual agency is the only agency with potential for diminished representation for BOTH, the seller and the buyer.
 
BEFORE you submit an offer, a good buyer agent should prepare a CMA of that home for you to make sure it is NOT overpriced and do a research beyond the four corners of the property.

Your friend might be the greatest agent in the world, but she will NOT be able to prepare a CMA for you - for that property - or she would be working against the best interests of her other client, the seller with whom she signed a contract and to whom she owes a fiduciary duty.

All your friend will do is to keep the transaction together so it survives to settlement. An independent buyer agent so NO vested interest in selling "this" particular property.

You owe it to yourself to hire an independent Buyer Agent to represent YOUR best interests!
  • February 07 2010
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Jkonstant said: "With all due respect, what advantage would a buyer have coming to you as a buyer's representatvie vs coming to me as a dual agent?  .... What if you were not as good as me at negotiations, etc? Who then has the advantage? "

Interesting point:  As a dual agent your negotiation skills do no one any good - of course there is the problem that if the house you listed belonged to a friend or relative you can't BE a dual agent. Or, if either the buyer or seller refuse to consent to dual agency you can't BE a dual agent.

A buyer's agent can always negotiate as an advocate - a dual agent never can.

I would guess that agents that work in exclusive buyer offices are, in general, better negotiators for buyer's than agents that work in offices that represent both. That is all they do and they become very good at it.


  • February 07 2010
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To me it sounds like you didn't go through with the sale because you're an FHA buyer and the property they showed you couldn't appraise with your FHA loan.  It sounds like your Realtor wasted your time...a professional knows which properties are suited for which type of home buyer....a good buyer's agent is key if you're seriously wanting to be in your home before the tax credits end.  
  • February 07 2010
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Laughing My Shiny Name Tag Off!!!!

That's two huge if's! I would say that the odds of this happening being slim to none, indicate one advantage a Buyer with an EBA, may possibly have over a Buyer with a DA. It also points out a distinct disadvantage to a Seller with a DA.
  • February 02 2010
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"Which Buyer is most likely to find out this information?"

Both potential buyers and the seller if the agents are ethical and on top of things.
  • February 02 2010
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What if there's a listing that two buyers are interested in? One is receiving dual agent treatment and one has an Exclusive Buyers Agent.

In the neighborhood where the listing exists, there are other comparable listings. One the day that the two Buyers have decided to make an offer, one of the comparable listings reduces their price 10K, and another falls out of pending status, due to appraisal or inspection problems.

Which Buyer is most likely to find out this information?
  • February 01 2010
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Paul:

With all due respect, what advantage would a buyer have coming to you as a buyer's representatvie vs coming to me as a dual agent? Imagine for a moment that I might be your equal at this. How then does anybody gain an advantage? What if you were not as good as me at negotiations, etc? Who then has the advantage? In fact the argument could be made that in an all is equal environment, the dual agent has the upper hand because they can afford to toss in a few commission points (dollars) to make things work as opposed to two separate agents working with far fewer dollars.
  • February 01 2010
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You're not in a 'tricky' situation, because basically, you know and like your broker... AND dual agency is not unusual. I'm sure your broker  "showed you the market" which means she's showed you a number of other homes where she was NOT listing agent. In fact, this situation can work out better for you -- your broker will certainly be proactive in bringing any concerns you have to the seller.
And if you're still really uncomfortable? Find a buyer's agent and have that person represent you. Explain to your friend the that you just want your own representation.
She'll grit her teeth, but ultimately be okay with it.
  • February 01 2010
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jkonstant said:  " Disclosed dual agency, no matter what term a state chooses to call one agent acting on behalf of the transaction, if properly done can be very effective for both side. A dual agent or transaction agent represents nobody, so in it's purest form and properly practiced it creates a level playing field for both sides."

For those who want a 'level playing field' dual agency might be ok if they are really ok buying or selling a home without representation.   Though why someone buying a home would reject having an agent as an advocate is beyond me. My clients come to be because they want an advantage  - not a level playing field.  

Heck, I'm a broker and plan at some point to buy a home in florida - an area I don't know.  I'll be looking for an exclusive buyer's agent when I do.

 

 



 
  • February 01 2010
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