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What happens if the buyer's agent I hire also lists a home I love?

This is really more of a hypothetical question, as I have been watching our market in anticipation of buying later this year.  I noticed one of the most highly-rated agents in my area, whom I had on my list of agents to interview when we're ready, also happens to be the listing agent for a home I love (which I'm sure will be sold by the time we're ready to buy lol). 

But it made me wonder, what would happen if the buyer's agent I do end up hiring also happens to list a house that we like, since it is advisable that a buyer have different representation?  Thank you for any clarification you're able to provide.  I know it's just hypothetical, but I want to be prepared for any circumstance we may encounter
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August 21 2013 - Jacksonville
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Let the Realtor you choose deal with this predicament if it happens, in Texas it becomes an Intermediary and the agent must only present facts, no opinions or advise to either side.
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August 23 2013
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again, thank you for all the info, especially for florida. its really helpful when we go to hire our agent. appreciate the help.
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August 23 2013

Agency law varies across the country.  In Florida, unless otherwise disclosed, we are transaction agents.   Agency aside, it really isn't uncommon for the listing agent to act as the selling side agent as well. 

You probably want an opinion, so I'll share.  Pick a great agent and be loyal to him/her.  

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August 23 2013
Dual Agency:

This is a very fine line to walk. It works best when the property in question has been on the market for a long period of time and the seller is motivated.

If the property is HOT, Dual Agency is NOT! in the sellers best interest. If the listing agent happens to be your buyers agent, He or She should refer you to a colleague for representation. 
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August 23 2013
Each state has different laws and it may be worth while to bring your concerns to the state's Realtor Organization. They are independent bodies concerned with the ethics of all real estate transactions and will help you to understand the pros and cons of moving forward.
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August 23 2013
The vast majority of "buyer's agents" in Florida actually act as Transaction Brokers, which is the default relationship in Florida.  In the case you mentioned the agent would get both sides.  Happens all the time, not at all unusual here.
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August 23 2013
While I'm not familiar with FLA RE law, in Maryland if you purchase the home through the listing agent then you have NO agent and NO representation, since the listing agent only represents the seller. Dual Agency is a clear conflict of interest and a potential nightmare for both Buyer and Seller. Since we as agents are ethically bound to protect the public's interest, then why is dual agency still legal in many parts of the country? I'll tell you why- GREED.

As mentioned by others, find an Exclusive Buyer's Agent in your area. They will represent YOU as a buyer and YOUR best interests.

Never sign off on dual agency. Its nothing more than a bait and switch.
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August 23 2013
Adam,

If you list properties then you are NOT an Exclusive Buyer Agent.  If you refer them to someone else in your office then there is an inherent conflict of interest since the "office" has the listing agreement with the seller and you have a contractual fiduciary to the Seller.  Anyone in your office is a sub-agent of the Seller.  If your office is a "transactional" office, then you have no allegiance to the Seller or the Buyer and you are working for the benefit of yourself....which is to get the highest commission and not protect either party.
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August 23 2013
As a buyer's agent and a listing agent, I usually refer them to another agent in my office to handle the other side of the transaction. There are always going to be exceptions with things like short sales, probate, etc. The thing that is most important though is that all parties involved are on the same page and working towards the same thing (a close where everyone walks away happy).

There are two points I would also add to that. 1- Don't try to predict too much of the future. You'll drive yourself crazy. It's real estate & anything can happen. 2- Just deal with someone you can trust. That would probably be the most important thing, however you choose to judge that. An experienced agent who you get a good vibe from should be able to help you deal with any situation that comes up.

That might sound like simple advice, but the best advice usually is.


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August 23 2013
You buy it.

Your objective is to buy a great house and stay within your budget. It isn't to have great representation (although that helps) or any of the other stuff that We Agents Know Is Important. Because it is.

But, first and foremost, you need to buy a great house. If your agent lists it, you will have learned a lot about the market, a lot about the local customs (inspections, et cetera), you'll be well-positioned to buy it, and you should do so.

In our haste to make sure that every buyer and seller is well-represented, let's not lose sight of what the real objective is.

All the best,
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August 21 2013
Great questions

Its called Dual agency. Most experienced agents will not act a dual agents.They will refer the it out.  Its difficult to  represent both the buyer and the seller. It does happen once in a while usually Manager of the office is gets involved.

To your success

Alex
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August 21 2013
If a real estate agent lists properties then they ARE NOT Buyer's Agents. An Exclusive Buyer's Agent does not list property since this would be a conflict of interest.  An EBA has a fiduciary strictly to the buyer.  To learn more about true Buyer's Agents and to locate one in your area you should visit the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agent's website at www.NAEBA.org
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August 21 2013

To the buyer AND the agents who responded incorrectly:

1.  Florida outlawed dual agency (aka double agent) in the 90's
2.  Florida does not allow designated agency

Florida has sellers agents, buyers agents, transaction brokers, and NON representatives.

Transaction brokers represent NO ONE as there are no fiduciary duties....no loyalty etc.

What you need is an Exclusive Buyers Agent that works in a BUYER agency office that NEVER represents sellers or has a conflict of interest as you have described. They can represent only you on all properties.

Florida has about 300,000 licensed real estate agents.....only 50 are Exclusive Buyers Agents dedicated to true buyer representation.

Please go to NAEBA.org ( the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents) to find an exclusive buyers agent...and yes there is one in Jacksonville.

Eve

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August 21 2013
Profile picture for atomic13
Thank you so much everyone!  Makes perfect sense.  I wasn't sure what the case might be if, say, we signed a contract with the agent to represent us.  But if I am understanding you all correctly, we could still have another agent assigned to us if the issue of dual agency occurs.  That's great to hear and makes me feel a lot better.

FWIW, it is very much a seller's market in the areas we are interested in, and the homes are actually priced very appropriately.  The good ones have been snapped up in less than 2 weeks, sometimes a few days, and usually at or slightly below list price.  With THAT in mind, I would be less wary about my agent practicing dual agency.  But always good to know we can switch agents if needed. 
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August 21 2013
You scenario can and does happen. If your highly rated agent is reputable than they can handle the situation as a dual agent.  This can be a questionable approach because who is the agent really working for, you or the seller?  If the property is priced right and you and the agent do research to show that it is priced where it should be then proceed with a offer. Of course depending on your RE market houses may be selling close to asking or even more.  Do some research on your own.  If you ever feel uncomfortable or pressured let the agent know.  You want to be happy with your new house not forever wondering if you got a good deal. 
 Dual agency is possible but it can be a balancing act for the agent.  You could tell your agent up front that if you want to buy any of their listings than you want your own buyers agent.  Be honest and they should be respectful.
   happy house hunting   
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August 21 2013
In Arizona, that is referred to as dual agency. In theory, since that agent is going to get both sides of the commission, he/she will try everything to get you that home. The downside is that even though they are suppose to treat each sides fairly, how can they do that with trying to get their seller's the highest price, and getting their buyer's the lowest price? You can see there is conflict already, and that is just on the pricing. I would talk this situation over with the agent you wish to hire before you hire them.  
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August 21 2013
This would be a case of dual agency where a realtor represents both parties. Its done all the time. If you want to make certain that only your interests are being considered you should enter into a buyer brokerage with an agent who will represent you. You could also hire an atty to write up your contract and pay them to represent you. If you really want the house contact the agent ask her to help you get qualified and see if you can buy it now.
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August 21 2013
It becomes a Dual Agency situation. In some states that's legal. In others it's not. I don't know if it is or isn't in Florida. BUT, even when it's legal, many brokers will assign another Realtor from the office to handle one side of the transaction, so that both buyers and sellers interests are protected. If, when you select a Realtor to represent you as a buyer's agent, you fall in love with that agent's listing, ask to have another agent represent you for that transaction. Interview them the same way you interviewed the first agent and make sure it's someone you can trust. Some agents are willing to be dual agents. They cannot counsel you during the negotiations and stay impartial to both buyer and seller, but if you are comfortable with that, then you can use the same agent.
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August 21 2013
Or if anyone else in that agents office lists anything the same thing happens if you look at it, you will have a dual agent working it rather than a buyers agent. it does not matter who the agent is, if you look at homes listed by the company your agent works with then that agent is a dual agent and treats both side equally and fairly. Something called designated agency can be set in place if this happens, be sure to ask your agent about dual agency.
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August 21 2013
 
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