Profile picture for jdudayahoo

How to select a realtor?

When selecting a realtor, am I, as a buyer, better off negotiating through the listing agent, an agent within the same office, or an agent from a different agency in the same location.

  • May 14 2010 - US
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Answers (23)

@ NWH,

I like it too. As an Agent, you'll need a different form of transportation for a showing. #:>) .... Happy funding, Rudi
  • May 17 2010
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In my opinion, I feel that every buyer should have a buyers agent.  A buyers agent has the feduciary responsibility to the buyer.  Unless you are very educated in the Real Estate Process, you're going to want to be represented.  To answer your question, it doesn't matter if you have an agent in the same office as the listing agent just make sure you sign a designated buyers agency agreement and ask lots of questions.  If you have a lot of experience in Real Estate you can definitely purchase a home successfully utilizing a transaction brokerage.  Best of Luck!-Alex Carbajal
  • May 16 2010
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Profile picture for Randy Mabry
A dual agent is an agent for the seller but can and does negotiate the offer to get a contract.  A buyers agent is working for the buyer-hence the name.  You as the buyer can do what you feel is best. I, as a buyer would want to know I had representation.
  • May 16 2010
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Profile picture for nwhome.us
I like the home on the rock, Rudi!
Keep me in mind for Seattle.
  • May 16 2010
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I'm in the mortgage business. I have an unbiased opinion. I always suggest a Buyers Agent. Here's why. ..... Happy funding, Rudi
  • May 16 2010
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Profile picture for lori112
it does not matter. I've bought and sold four homes.You represent yourself. Agents work for themselves; they do not work for the buyer or seller. It's time someone gets that clear. Agents are in business to sell homes. The best you can hope from any agent (and it makes no difference who the agent is or who they are associated with) is to show you properties, show you the comps, and be available. Some will point out defects of a home or construction issues or neighborhood perks, but not all. It's best to do your own research on neighborhoods and schools because some of that info is illegal for them to give you. If you contact listing agents and work without an agent, sometimes you can negotiate a lower price, because they don't have to split the fee. However, it's time-intensive to look at homes only through the listing agents, so you have to have lots of time to schedule all the separate appts. Negotiating prices is up to YOU. The agent will not help you negotiate a lower price. Their commission is better with a higher price. Don't expect that an agent will forgo their higher commission to please you. They are in business to make money. In fact, if they think you will go higher, many times that will be conveyed to the listing agent subtely, so guard what you tell them.
  • May 16 2010
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I have actually acted as a dual agent in Washington in multiple transactions. It can be done well and fairly. However, it is not appropriate to all transactions. In the cases I have done dual agency, it has been a win-win-win. It was in a more stable market, where it was relatively clear from the comparable sales what the property was worth (within a couple thousand dollars). Buyer and seller were able to clearly determine and agree on a fair market sales price based on the property and comparables. With broker permission, a portion of the commission went back to the seller, a portion to the buyer to cover closing costs, and the balance of what would have gone to a buyer's agent went to me, covering my time for extra meetings, etc. The amount additional to buyer and seller more than covered any potential variances in the market price; everyone came out ahead.

I have found it to be a much less stressful way to run a transaction if you have parties that like everyone to get a fair shake. It may not work if you have a buyer/seller who seeks the best price above all other transaction costs. It has the opportunity to be very ethical (if all parties agree that all information is disclosed, the buyer/seller care about a fair home price for both parties, wish a less stressful situation, the buyer/seller care about the buyer being qualified at above the sale price if it is to prove credit-worthiness not to extract more funds than fair market price, etc.). The dark side is there are huge opportunities for ethical nonsense to occur, but frankly these can occur whether or not you have a dual agency role. As hpvanc points out, the buyer's agent ultimately represents the seller and is compensated based on a) a sale occurring and b) a higher commission amount if the sale occurs for more money. The entire process has ethical conflicts....which brings me back to "pick someone you trust."
  • May 16 2010
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Profile picture for hpvanc
My objection was that you were going over the top being manipulative with what I saw a sales pitch (I don't even know if what the car salesmen do is actually statutory but they present it as such and I've signed a number of them).  I have 0 tolerance for salesmanship.  The law doesn't say you can't do it, and "do no harm to either party", the best you can hope for is that your own rep will do no harm to you anyway.

I don't think that a buyers agent can truly represent a buyer (they represent sellers in general but not the buyer you cannot be a salesman and represent a buyer), so if buyers have the time, patience and bullheadedness to represent themselves, or they are working with someone who has earned their trust, not created a perception of trust to go for it.  It creates efficiencies in the process that benefit us all.
  • May 16 2010
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Profile picture for nwhome.us
hpvanc,

You are right that I am uncomfortable "doing it" and only wish to express my opinion as to why.

I've suggested having the listing agent write the offer without representing the buyer.  The buyer's same negotiating strategies with the seller should apply.  There's no longer a conflict of interest.

By design, I don't think you will find anywhere in my post that "no one should do it".  I've expressed my own opinion of dual agency and given reason for it.  My opinion is based on 2 things:

1.    Real estate agents are not attorneys.  In my own experience attorneys do very well at interpreting laws in a way that benefit their own client.  There is a good reason why they don't practice dual agency.

2.    My experience is based on about 35 years of negotiating  large contracts on behalf of my "clients" and I am VERY sensitive to operating within my field of experience when I brush with law.  I don't think that law is fair; it is the lowest common denominator in social interaction.  If all else fails, the law steps in.  Frequently it is a total waste of money.

Any of the parties to the agreement can initiate miscommunication and most of these are easily resolved by good council outside of the law.  I just have a problem with who the benefit of council is for in dual agency.  No one, in my opinion of the Washington Law of Real Estate Agency! 

I hope you remember the opening of my first post in this thread: "I think that the first question is; how much experience do you have in real estate and negotiating contracts?"  We have no idea how much experience the OP has. 

Here's the link to the summary of the Washington Law of Real Estate Agency. I appreciate that it is statutory in Washington (and a requirement that it is provided in every initiation of contact) because I think that it goes into further detail than the fiduciary understanding of agency. 
I fail to understand the relevance of the reference to the auto purchase.  Since when is an auto salesperson representing the buyer?  It has more relevance to the listing agent's position.

  • May 15 2010
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Profile picture for Alan Donald
I would recommend you hire a buyer's agent to represent your interests in the transaction, protect your earnest money (escrow) legally, and provide you with options and choices that a listing agent may not or cannot provide you with.

For example, there may be a very similar home for sale at a better price, but you may not be aware of it before making an offer - and the listing agent is certainly not going to point it out to you - his/her fiduciary responsibility is to the seller!

Whether your buyer's agent is from the same office as the listing agent or not, that is probably not as important, provided you trust your agent and he/she behaves professionally. In SC we have two "modes" of agency to choose from in this situation: Dual or designated agency. Both parties have to agree. Designated agency still gives you full representation and protection - no different from single agency.

However, depending on the company, it may be an advantage to pick a buyer's agent from the same office as the listing agent - if both agents know each other well and respect each other, the transaction may happen a lot smoother than if both agents take an "adversarial" position by virtue of being from competing companies...
  • May 15 2010
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Profile picture for hpvanc
NWHome:

"The plot thickens as we get deeper into Agency, which in Washington is described in a State law so it is statutory."  So it is statutory like car dealers having you sign a release that they have explained and tried to sell you extended warranty coverage (which is almost universally agreed is a bad deal) in many states.  Good job with the lobbying effort, mission accomplished!

"I personally believe that there is a total conflict of interest if an agent practices dual agency and is legally representing both sides of the transaction."  It does put the agent in more of an mediation/arbitration role, which is substantially different from what they train for, but shouldn't an honest agent be able to perform in that situation.  You aren't comfortable with the situation, and are probably unwilling to take on the extra liability, but should you be saying that no one should do it?  Present your reason and let people choose.
  • May 15 2010
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Flip a coin.
  • May 15 2010
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The most important aspect of this question is that you have a good relationship with your agent, whether the agent is the listing agent or a buyer's agent. Agency relationships may vary from state to state, but in general you as the buyer are entitled to representation, regardless of whether you have your own buyer's agent or you "share" the listing agent with the seller. You might meet the listing agent at an open house, and if you decide you want to buy that house, you can easily use the listing agent as your agent too. If you are not comfortable with that, start interviewing buyer's agents, using referrals, searching the internet or calling brokers for suggestions. The agent you select should be able to explain in detail the differences in agency relationships. Good luck!
  • May 15 2010
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You're best bet is to talk around to your friends, family and coworkers and try to see if they can refer you to an agent they've worked with.
  • May 15 2010
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I'd recomend finding another agent other than the lisitng agent. Make sure its someone you can get along with and you feel comfortable with, this is a big step buying a home, and your going to want to have someone that you can trust and will be there through the whole process.

Listing agents do represent the seller and you could use them as your realtor too, but I would say try to go with someone else, unless of course you are already working with the listing agent and they just listed this property.

Call around to diffrent companies and interview a couple.

Good luck:)

  • May 15 2010
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Profile picture for nwhome.us

The plot thickens as we get deeper into Agency, which in Washington is described in a State law so it is statutory.
The listing agent can write an offer for you and not have to legally represent you, which means they are not practicing dual agency.  In the Washington forms there is a little box that, when checked, indicates that the buyer is not represented.  This is when you definitely want an attorney backing you up.
I personally believe that there is a total conflict of interest if an agent practices dual agency and is legally representing both sides of the transaction.  In Washington State law the description of the agent's responsibility changes to "do no harm to either party."  Yes, the agent may do no harm, but what about one of the other parties?  And who is going to get called to the table?  Everyone!  It leaves the door wide open to any attorney's interpretation which means they will, once again, be making more out of the situation than anyone else.
I'd be as careful choosing your attorney as you are about the agent who represents you.

  • May 15 2010
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It is really dependant upon who you are confortable with, and how knowledgable you are. Many agencies will not allow dual agency (one agent representing both seller and buyer) so as to eliminate any appearance of inpropriety. If you are unsure of the value of the property or the process, then I suggest finding a realtor who can assist you and have your best interest. As long as you are comfortable with your realtor it should not matter which office they work for. Talk to a few agents and see if you feel comfortable with them, and then make up your mind.
  • May 15 2010
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Profile picture for hpvanc
Ryan, I would like to point out that the only favorable referral I got when I was looking, was for a part time agent full time engineer.  Unfortunately for  me he was licensed on the wrong side of the state line.

Also if you find that the listing agent has a stellar reputation of being skillful, professional and honest, with a history of handling both sides of the transaction to all parties satisfaction, don't you think that would be worth considering (I'm sure there are a few of these people somewhere).  I know it poses a serious threat to your business model, and would if it caught on reduce total commission paid out on a real estate transaction, but can't you even consider thinking about it logically? 
  • May 15 2010
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@ Ryan

Full time has little to do with competence. They should choose a good agent, which has no correlation to part time/full time status in my experience.
  • May 15 2010
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It is in your best interest to have individual representation by your own agent (providing they are an experianced full time professional and skillful negotiator). Don't be swayed by a listing agents offer to toss in a small amount of commission. This will very easily be offset by a well negotiated price and inspection contingency.
  • May 15 2010
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Profile picture for al123456
A different agency, or just a different agent within the same office, is fine. Most buyers do not go through the listing agent, even if they found the house on their own. There is a reason for this.

Word of advise though - Get a buyers agent that will work twice as hard as you would. Some buyers agents do not put in the time required to be a good agent.
  • May 14 2010
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Profile picture for nwhome.us
I think that the first question is; how much experience do you have in real estate and negotiating contracts?
A listing agent should be able to tell you that they are in this profession full time and they negotiate 'x' number of sales, on average, every year.  They will feel very comfortable about the value of the home that they are representing.  They do have some motivation to sell the home, but not a lot of motivation to differ from their opinion of the home's value.  So you need to be persuasive (comfortable) about your own opinion of its value and persitant about the agent presenting your opinon in good faith to the seller.
The stock agreement forms used by most MLS agents change frequently (every 6 months), so a purchase that you made 2 years ago will have used different forms.  If you use the listing agent you should also consult with an attorney to confirm that your best interests are represented in the agreement.  This isn't an issue until something goes wrong but that is the core of legal agreements.
The challange with using an attorney is that they frequently are not in tune with some "common practice" issues that local real estate agents use.  These differ somewhat from the legal wording, but can sometimes direct specific responses to issues.
  • May 14 2010
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You are best off with someone you trust, regardless of location or brokerage. If you choose to work directly with the listing agent, make sure you are well informed and ask to know what the commission terms are - they may have it written into their agreement that they do not get a full dual commission if they bring the buyer, which can impact the amount you are willing to offer. Their duty to you will vary by state.
  • May 14 2010
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