I receive calls all the time from people searching Los Angeles homes for sale on my site asking if I am the listing agent on a particular property. I wish all the properties found online were my listings…..
When I say I am not, sometimes people will say thank you, and try and find the listing agent thinking they are going to get a deal. It’s not that I blame them. Logically you would think that would be the case: the seller is paying commission for both sides of the deal, 50% to the listing agent, and 50% to the buyer’s agent. So, if the listing agent represents the buyer (dual agency) they are going to get double the commission. Or maybe they made a deal with the seller that they would lower the commission a little if they brought in the buyer. In any event it is in the listing agent’s, and maybe the seller’s best interest for the buyer to go direct. And consequently you the buyer are going to get a better deal, right?
You the buyer need to understand that no one in the above instance is representing you alone. It would be like going into a car showroom and thinking that the salesman there has your best interests at heart. They are working for the dealer who is paying them and wanting the most money they can get. Sure you can negotiate and think you are getting a deal, but you always walk out thinking you could have gotten a better price. I don’t like to walk into a showroom on my own. I have no clue what I am doing and never know if I am getting a deal or not. I wish they had professional car buyers, I would hire one in a minute. Not, of course, that the car salesman owes you anything.
As agents we are bound to provide a fiduciary duty to our clients, meaning we owe them our full and best service, whether we are representing a seller or a buyer. But I don’t think that is entirely possible when we are representing both sides of a deal. Imagine the seller telling the agent what their bottom line is and then the buyer telling them how high they are willing to go! And understand that an agent cannot disclose to one side what they know about the other. That is an extremely difficult negotiating position to be in. And remember who is paying the commission! How comfortable would you as a buyer feel in a situation like that?
Let’s say you are successful with your offer, that is not the end of the representation you are going to need. What about the home inspection? Negotiating the repairs you may want can also break a deal. The listing agent will be negotiating those too? What if further inspections are required, hard as they may try, how motivated will the listing agent be to delay the removal of your inspection contingency to wait for those?
This is not to say the listing agent cannot do this. Of course they can, but somehow, some way, don’t you think you might think you would have ended up better off if you had your own buyer’s agent negotiating for you?
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