Also, don't listen to these people who say having an agent will cost you nothing - their agency will often charge you fees. More importantly whoever you are buying the house from is NOT going to pay the agent's commission out of their profit. They are going to consider what they really want to make for the house and then add funds on top of that to go toward your agent and, if they have one, their agent. It is NOT at no cost to you. That is a ridiculous statement - if these people made no money off the transaction over and above what the seller was going to make anyway they wouldn't be here. They would be on a job search website trying to find some real employment because no seller would accept an agent hacking into their profits. For instance, if a seller really wants to make $52k on a house they may actually charge you closer to $57k as both agents are going to take a percentage cut out of what you are paying before the seller gets paid.
Just because the seller has an agent and you don't does NOT mean that agent has to represent you, so you don't have to hire your own agent to prevent this. You can make it clear to them you do not want to have an agent represent you and that you wish to do your own work and research - in this instance ensure you are clearing all contracts with your lawyer and get any promises the seller's agent makes you in writing for your lawyer to review. If you do not make it clear that you do not want the seller's agent to represent you as well they will take both the commission usually due to them AND the commission your agent would have took had you hired one - thus making your cost for the house just as high as if you hired your own agent. This person does not give a crap about you if they are representing the seller as well- they are in an ideal situation to push though the sale of the house at the maximum money so that they make a buck. They're not going to advise you well. They can't legally force you to have them represent you - if they claim you must don't do business with them. Like I said before, dealing directly with a seller and not agents is the way to go and you should lean heavily on a well-respected lawyer for good advice.
If you were going to court would you feel comfortable being defended by the prosecuting attorney? The answer in this case is very clear....so to should it be clear with real estate. Buyers should always seek their own personal representaion and avoid the possibility of a conflict of interest when dealing with an agent that is also the listing agent.
If you have a buyer's agent, the fiduciary responsibility belongs to you. A sellers agent can be a buyers agent at anytime so if you have an agent you like to work with, you can sign a contract with them for buyers agency.
Get a Buyers Agent. The sellers agent is not your friend.
Fran and Mark Redding
Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors
1010 stonyhill Road
Yardley, PA 19067