Do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?
As a Realtor I work with either sellers or buyers but almost never both in the same transaction. One Real Estate “Urban Legend” that comes up fairly regularly is that it is better for you to buy a house directly from the listing agent. The belief is that you will either get a better deal on the price or actually get a reimbursement or kickback from the agent because they are getting “both sides” of the deal.
As a consumer, you have a right (and in my opinion a real need) to representation … here’s what happens when you work only with the listing agent. The Consumer Protection Act and the Licensing laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts require that an agent representing two clients in the same transaction must work as a disclosed dual agent. According to 254 CMR 3.00, “a dual agent will not have the ability to satisfy fully the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, reasonable care and obedience to lawful instructions, but shall still owe the duty of confidentiality of material information and the duty to account for funds”. There is a consent form that you both must sign and “the consent form must also state that a dual agent assists the seller and buyer in a transaction but shall be neutral with regard to any conflicting interest of the seller and buyer.”
So one party (the Seller who has a signed representation contract) gets an agent who is “providing less than full representation”, while the other (you) gets an agent who is “providing less than full representation”. Why on earth would you want an agent working for you who can only unlock a door and write an offer, they can’t advise you on what price or terms to offer, can’t provide you with “comps” to ensure you don’t overpay, can’t recommend inspectors or attorneys, can’t advise you about inspection issue negotiations, and aren’t able to tell you about any location issues or defects in the house? It just doesn’t make sense.
Here’s why buyers need representation, preferably by an Accredited Buyer Representative, ABR … shameless plug for myself
1. A listing agent works for the seller
2. The listing agent’s biggest responsibility is to get the most money and best terms for the seller
3. Despite rumors, I have NEVER heard of a verified situation where the buyer got a kickback from the listing agent
4. If you think you’ll get “inside info”, i.e. what the sellers want in price or conditions so that they’ll accept your offer over others’, you can ask, but they won’t tell you. The listing agent is only ALLOWED BY LAW to share their client’s confidential information with you it the seller gives them permission (I’d want to see it in writing) and can lose their license if he/she does without permission.
5. During the inspection, how objective will your (oops, I mean the seller’s) agent be?
6. The listing agent has a vested interest in your buying THIS house and will not encourage you to look at similar ones of better value, condition, or location.
7. The Listing agent is not obligated to inform you of any traffic or environmental conditions or smell/noise/light pollution from nearby locations that might be part of the reason their sellers are moving.
A buyer agent (ABR) is the only person in your house search and offer process looking out only for YOU. They are your advocate in a major and life-affecting purchase. Using a Buyer Agent costs you no money, and may even help you save money in the initial negotiation and by using inspection issues to re-negotiate.
How about if I say it another way: Would you want to go to a court trial having the Prosecutor do double duty as your defense lawyer?
Absurd and ridiculous?
It’s like asking do you really get a better deal if you’re buying from the listing agent?