Home Buying in San Jose>Question Details

Goldfish, Home Buyer in 95111

Contacting Listing Agent: good idea or bad idea? (short sale)

Asked by Goldfish, 95111 Thu Dec 8, 2011

If I directly contact the listing agent for the (short sale) home I'm interested in, will there be a conflict? I've been told before that in short sales, the agent is working for the bank and not the seller, so trying to get the highest price isn't their main concern. True?
What things should I be looking out for if I do decide to just contact the house's listing agent? In a short sale, do I need my own?
(sorry, i feel like i've been asking question after question. i'm so appreciative of all the advice i've gotten here.)

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Answers

21
Bambi:

In short, since you've made it abundantly clear in previous emails that you are currently represented by an agent, yes, it would be a conflict for you to contact the listing agent directly. And, to be frank, it doesn't provide you with any advantage in trying to work directly with the listing agent. In most cases--as can be readily seen by the myriad of questions posed by home buyers who chose to use the short sale listing agent as their own agent--the dual agent works, first, for the list and second for you, and many times to the detriment of the home buyer. You're always better off, in my opinion, with an agent who represents just your interests.

But more importantly, I have to ask, why you continue to use an agent with whom you've noted that you do not wholly trust and who you seem to feel is working at opposing actions to your own. If you do not feel that the agent has your best interests at heart, contact the agent's broker and make a switch to another agent in the firm with whom you can develop the necessary trust and mutual respect to complete the transaction.

Home sales are hard enough. One doesn't need to use an agent that they suspect is not providing them with all of the information OR with whom the agent finds out the buyer has been going behind his/her back to contact the listing agent of other homes. Its always better to be upfront and to air your concerns with the agent, and, if necessary, to switch to another agent in the same firm.

So, to answer your question, no, do NOT call the listing agent yourself. You have probably signed a representation agreement with your current agent and could be in violation of the provisions of that agreement. Further, without an agent making contact on your behalf, the listing agent is unlikely to be very cooperative in helping you because he/she would not want to interfere with an established agency relationship. Either way, it would do nothing to help you, and could very definitely "hurt" your position in the eyes of the listing agent.

Better to call your own agent on this one, and get things sorted now.

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka
Area Pro Realty-People's Choice
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
Bambi,

Albeit most of the answers and information on this thread are very well thought out and informative I must digress. One of the commenters opined that you shouldn't take advice from someone from another state. On this I will take issue.

There's Real Estate "Practice" and there's Real Estate "Theory". Now if you're asking a specific question about rule, or regulations, RE law, policy, etc. pertaining to a specific state then by all means you should stick with answers and comments given by RE professionals within the state you are referring to as these are definitely "Practice" related questions for a given State.

If, however, as is clearly the case with this "Theoretical" question, you are seeking guidance from a Professional Forum such as Trulia which is represented by a cross section of RE professionals throughout the entire USA, the more opinions and advice you receive the better as far as I'm concerned. Theory is theory and Practice is Practice. The more feedback you receive the better.

I must also take issue with the notion that if you're being well taken care of by your agent/broker there shouldn't be any need to contact a RE forum such as Trulia. On the contrary. I have often advised my clients to refer to open forums such as Trulia, Active Rain, Zillow, Realty Trac, etc. to better educate themselves and obtain as much of a cross section of informative and knowledge as is possible.

I instill loyalty in my clients from the get go and I'm not the least bit threatened or intimidated by recommending that my client seek outside sources to better educate and inform themselves on whatever RE issue or concern they may have.

I don't purport to have an answer for every question and I've been in the RE industry in one form or another for almost 4 decades (buyer, seller, investor, contractor, developer, manufactured home dealer and RE broker). Truth be known the better informed and educated my client the easier my job. Just my opinion.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 10, 2011
i completely disagree with anybody who said it's o.k. to contact the listing agent. Never do that, especially on a short-sale. That agent is working for the seller, not you. The agent is NOT working for the bank, their client is the seller. You will gain NOTHING by contacting the seller's agent and you will lose a lot. Find a way to use your own agent, who will look out for your interests.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
I said earlier to contact the listing agent to find out if your offer has been presented. Stay loyal to your agent, the one who is working hard for you. You agent has done nothing wrong. The problem seems to arise out of your lack of trust. That is not fair to the agent you are working with. Work it out and quit relying on advice from people who are not representing you.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
I can only "ditto" my friend Grace (thumbs up). There seems to be a real lack of trust and respect.

Michael
http://LosGatosHomesandRealEstateBlog.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
If your currently are not working with an agent I believe it's OK to contact the listing agent. I get calls directly from buyers all the time regarding my homes for sale. If your working with an agent than it's better to let your agent contact the listing agent and find out anything that you'd like to know about the property or the current status.

Now, if you are working with an agent and you feel he/she is not providing with the information that you need than it's probably better for you to look for someone you feel will represent you, its knowledgeable about this profession and it's looking for your best interest.

When buyers call me directly most of the time I find out by asking is because that agent is not providing the attention/trust or answers to that buyer.

I believe some of the answers you've received here from my fellow realtors are made under the assumption that you are working with a good agent but we must also assumed that you are either not getting the right answers or you are just try to get "second" opinions from other real estate professionals on which I find it perfectly ok.

Jose Adame
(408-315-6320
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
Hi Bambi,

A listing agent's fiduciary duty is to the seller. Their main objective to a short seller is to get the home sold. Just because the seller can't receive any proceeds doesn't mean that the sales price doesn't matter. Since a short sale requires an approval from the bank(s), a higher sales price will have a greater chance of an approval. Additionally, a higher sales price can sometimes mean less tax consequences to the seller.

As a listing agent, I always get buyers approaching me to tell me they have an agent but would be willing to work with me instead. They think that they would get an advantage somehow if they allowed me to earn double commission on the sale. First problem is that the buyers think they can squeak by with a lower offer by doing so. The seller sees all offers and they're the ones who chooses which one to accept. Second problem is that most short sale lenders cut the commission for duel agency, which means the agent will be doing double the work for about 1.5x the commission. Lastly, I personally prefer to work with buyers who trust in my work and not have to worry about their loyalty.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
You certainly have the option of contacting the listing agent directly for a short sale property, or any listing that they have. Another important item to consider is whether this is a real estate agent you trust and want to work with in the long term. While you may be interested in this particular property, you may end up wanting to look at other homes as well, or this one may not work out. In those situations, you would benefit by working with one real estate agent who can get to know you, understand the types of home features that are important to you, and really become your advocate.

Sally Blaze
925-998-1284
sblaze@apr.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
Bambi, once again my apologizes and this is my last thing I'll say about this.

I still hold to what I said that anyone can get licensed within several months. I know that for a fact and I know people that can barely speak and read English and had passed the exam. Getting the real estate license does not require a high degree of intelligence (look at me :-)

Again, my intention is not to degrade the "good apples" but only to bring it up to you for your own awareness and for you to look for those few "good apples". I do not see anything wrong with that at all. And I don't say this with the intention to bring myself look better among other comrades, even though I truly believe I am well prepared and so as others here that have provided great advise (thanks Terri).

If anyone is offended for how I see it and say it well...I am not a politically correct type of a person (Most clients that, a few don't) and I'll provide my advise in a way I believe it to be beneficial to whoever wants to take it. If a person finds that my advise is not helpful than it is as easy as ignoring it. This my America my friends.

I love you all and Marry Christmas!!!

Jose Adame
(408) 315-6320
Foreclosures@JoseAdame.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 10, 2011
Bambi,

You seem to have opened up a debate among other agents, and I am sorry you had to experience that. Our objective here is to give YOU our opinions. What you will find is that not all agents agree with each other, and sometimes in our passion to answer your question will say something very general (true or not) that will touch a cord with an agent or so. With that being said. We are all professionals here and want you to have the best representation. You get to pick which answer and person you value and trust most.

I agree that you should have your own agent. It is true the listing agent has a signed Listing Agreement with the seller. This is a contract and therefor the agency is with the seller. As a listing agent, I have been contacted by a perspective buyer and I will give them information about the property while keeping my agency with the seller. I ask them if they have a agent and if they desire further questions to have their agent contact me.

Keep in mind that the contract the seller signed with the listing agent stipulates the commission agreement and what portion will be shared with the buyer agent. Rarely does this change. The seller in most cases is going to pay the same commission regardless of who brings in the offer. If the Listing agent's job is to get the highest price for the seller, how can they get you a better price? So it makes sense to have your own.

If you were told the agent is working for the bank I'd ask them do they have a signed contract between the brokerage and the bank? I highly doubt they will answer yes.
Web Reference: http://www.terrivellios.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
I'd rather not take this into the forum but I'll just say this, I do believe there are many well prepared professionals in this business for that same reason I recommended to interview agents and find someone with a proven record. As on any profession, there are good and bad ones. There good and bad doctors, there are good and bad attorneys and so on.

Many real estate agents do continue to learn and grow and see this a lifetime profession and I can see that you may be one of them. But the truth many agents don't. Many see this as a make-a-quick-buck profession. Why is it that the turn over is so high?

My intention was not to degrade the profession or professionals but for all of my comrades to bring themselves to a higher standards. Again, I suggested Bambi to look for someone that is well prepared with qualities that I believe should be deeply ingrained into ourselves. Someone with skills, character and principals that will bring his buying experience to a new unexpected level.

As Forest Gump says... and that's all I have to say about that....

I love you guys

Jose Adame
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
When a buyer calls me directly and tells me to he/she would like to make an offer, there is always the questions "how much should I offer?", my answer is always whatever you think is your highest and best, and that the price reflects market value.
At the end, whoever gets the property will depend on highest and best offers from other competing offers. There is no different than a buyer's agent calling me and asking me "how much should I offer?". I can't tell you how many times the buyer's agent will sale their client on a hot listing.

In short sales, I am not represent the bank, I am representing the seller, I will try to get the highest and best for the bank but my main fiduciary is to the seller, so if the people from the bank is asking for too much on a property I will make my case with upper management. If I am representing the buyer as well, then I am neutral of how much to offer for the property. Same goes for regular listings.

As my fellow realtors suggest, everything goes back to finding a good agent who knows about today's market, marketing skills, negotiations, best practices and strategies which is not that easy to find taking into account that anyone can get a real state license in as little as 3 months.

Amigo Bambi, take the time to interviewed agents and find someone with a good proven record based on results so you won't wondering what "your agent" is up to. Good luck and keep up the good job fellow agents.

Cheers!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
I would also like to add that you should be careful who you receive advice from in this forum. I've seen agents from other States answering questions posted in California relating to California transactions. Although their intentions are not ill-willed, real estate procedures and laws vary from State to State.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
Bambi, I think at this point you might consider getting yourself another buyers agent to represent you. My buyer clients would NEVER have to go to a public forum to get answers to their questions regarding their transaction, or any other subject relating to purchasing real estate. I do not recommend having the listing agent represent you in your purchase either. Dual agency (listing agent representing both seller and buyer) is allowed, however, many years ago, it was not allowed and there was a reason for that. In my opinion, a conflict of interest.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
Hi Home Buyer,

If you have a great agent that you trust, you shouldn't need to contract the other agent. If you are questioning that your agent submitted your offer or have other concerns that your agent isn't answering, you may be answering some of your questions right there. Find an agent you trust and has short sale experience! Those of us agents that are doing short sales and are short sale certified understand how they work, how to negociate not only with the agent but with the banks as well.

But to your questions, if you have true concerns, and you have a queston that you really need answered and your agent isn't getting that answer for you, call the other agent and see if he/she can answer it for you. Your agent could have and should have contacted the other agent with that question(s) for you but if you feel the need, call.

If you have more questions and concerns or need help. Don't hesitate to call: 925-628-9100

Best regards,

Lillie Missbrenner, Realtor Short Sale Speicalist
Better Homes and Garden Previously Prudential California Realty
Cell: 925-628-9100
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
Bambi,
I completely agree with Grace and Michael ( thumbs up). You should NOT be doing this on your own. If you do not feel confidence in your agent, DON'T WORK WITH THEM. You have some of the best buying agents right HERE at your finger tips. Contact a few of us who have answered your questions and pick one that you feel CONFIDENT in. Please believe me you DO NOT want to do this on your own.
At your service,
Allyson
408-705-6578
allyson@homesbyallyson.com
CDPE- Certified Distressed Property Expert
DRE# 01397256
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
If your currently are not working with an agent I believe it's OK to contact the listing agent. I get calls directly from buyers all the time regarding my homes for sale. If your working with an agent than it's better to let your agent contact the listing agent and find out anything that you'd like to know about the property or the current status.

Now, if you are working with an agent and you feel he/she is not providing with the information that you need than it's probably better for you to look for someone you feel will represent you, its knowledgeable about this profession and it's looking for your best interest.

When buyers call me directly most of the time I find out by asking is because that agent is not providing the attention/trust or answers to that buyer.

I believe some of the answers you've received here from my fellow realtors are made under the assumption that you are working with a good agent but we must also assumed that you are either not getting the right answers or you are just try to get "second" opinions from other real estate professionals on which I find it perfectly ok.

Jose Adame
(408-315-6320
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
Xxxbambixxx,
Contacting the listing agent could as easily backfire as provide a benefit. They work for the seller, not the bank but know that in order to get the bank to approve the deal the higher offer they can get the better. Your level of interest, motivation and other "tells" will give you away to a good agent and they will hold out for more money if they can get it. The more they get, the lower the risk is for their seller and the easier time they will have with the bank.
If you have an agent, and they are a good agent, listen to them and trust them to do their job. Even when you haven't heard from them they are focused on getting your deal through. Remember, we only get paid when the sale closes.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 8, 2011
>>there's nothing wrong with contacting the listing agent.

Yes, there is. Go back and read the other responses about the job of the listing agent. Go with your gut on this one.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
there's nothing wrong with contacting the listing agent. he will simply disclose to you his position as a realtor - i.e. seller's agent, buyer's agent, dual agent, transaction broker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 12, 2011
Thank you for your inquiry:

The listing agent should only be representing the seller not the bank. (short sale lender) The bank (short sale lender) has adequate respources for their own representation, and does not need representation by the listing agent to protect the interests of the bank (short sale lender). The interesests of the seller and the bank short sale lender) are often in conflict. The listing agent should be representing the seller only.

With respect to the short sale lender and price: The short sale lender is often unrealistic about the true Fair Market Value of the property. The short sale lender often thinks that the true Fair Market Value of the short sale property is far more than it really is. Price to the short sale lender is a very big issue.

With respect to the listing agent: The listing agent must work much harder on a short sale transaction than on a regular sale. This a tragic point in the seller's life, and the listing agent must do an enormous amount of work just providing emotional support and counseling for the seller and family of the seller, with respect to the future and how to find housing and recover for the seller and the rest of the family.

For those reasons alone, it is very difficult for the listing agent to do a good job representing your interests as well. This is particularly true when the interests of the seller are in conflict with your own interests.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 9, 2011
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