Home Buying in Washington>Question Details

Gerald Seega…, Real Estate Pro in Washington, DC

Question for people looking for houses. Why do so many people prefer to call up individual listing agents to see a home rather than retain their own?

Asked by Gerald Seegars, Washington, DC Wed Nov 11, 2009

buyer's agent? I just cannot figure it out, but I have people call me on my listings all the time saying I do not have an agent and can you show me the house. For my own understanding, what are the main reasons that homebuyers choose to go this seemingly inefficient route rather than retain a skilled Realtor to act on their behalf?

Help the community by answering this question:


I can see buyers thinking along the lines of what you said, but to me the analysis is flawed.

If the listing agreement calls for a 6 percent commission, that what the seller will pay regardless if the listing agent acts as a dual agent or not. Again, how does using a buyer's agent cost the buyer? The seller foots the bill.
Web Reference: http://www.urbanerealty.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
Point raised:
r listing agents leave so much info. out of listing so that they can have buyers call them. Then get What?(double commission).
First: There is limited space to put info. in a listing.
Second: Most big agents have no time to field qs. from a lot of buyers.
Third: If u hire good buyer agents and develop a partnership with them, they can get the answers u need in a timely manner.
For instance at my brokerage, Saab, my broker (and primary listing agent) spends time working with the sellers. Our listing coordinators talks to the agents. I am the primary buyer agent. I talk to the buyers.

We get a lot of calls where callers(prospects) insist on talking to the listing agent only as they can make a deal with him. We got tired of explaining things. Finally we explain the structure and each of us follow our responsibilities strictly. Then we find out a lot of callers fizzle out, either because they r tire kickers, not qualified, or dreamers with hard money lender relationships(which r not well established) or people who go back to their buyer agents which they should have done in the first place.

With all this noise , how do u expect us to make a living in a profession where the national average in earnings is under $20k/year?

Please do understand that for us time is the only expended resource and that should be used to provide the best service for our clients!!!!!!!!!!!

Ramesh Chandra
703 635 8209
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 13, 2009
This response is specifically for the buyers who responded.
My thanks 2 u for responding.
First, there was no disrespect meant to buyers or their intelligence in the comments here.
As a professional agent , i would like the callers(buyers and tire kickers) 2 understand that Real estate agency is a profession , just like Law. We r licensed and guided by real estate laws of the state, the ethics mandates by state and our associations, and our own integrity.

When u approach us , please approach us with an intent to hire and pay us for our services.
If u r approaching the listing agent or any agent without a buyer representation agreement with u, keep in mind u r approaching the seller's representative. Any advantages u want to get from the listing agent tend to put them in a compromising position. I may be the best negotiator, but if I want the best legal representation I go to the best lawyer. It is the same with agents.

U may have bad experiences with some agents, But u will get the best results from a good buyer agent.
Similar to what Amex used 2 say, don't go into these without representation.

I will encourage u 2 debate point by point any item on this topic in this forum.

Ramesh Chandra
703 635 8209
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 13, 2009
I agree with Gerald. I do get alot of calls for my listing and poor buyers do not understand that listing agent work for seller. However, any agent can disclouse dual agency and get the tansaction going but in a transaction how could you really look into the both seller and buyer 's interest at the same time. I personally don't like to do dual agency because it creates conflicts of interests.
Web Reference: http://DCRealtyOnline.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 13, 2009
Could it be as simple as to many listing agents leave so much off the listing they figure if they call they will get some answers? Other real estate agents do not know anything about this property. So if a buyer asks the selling agent they hope they will be told the truth about what is what. They also expect it not to take days or weeks to get a reply from the other agent as there is none. PLUS since the agent is a dual agent many buyers will use it to bargain. SInce you would only get 3% commision with 2 agents I get anything above that back. A great bargaining position. It truly helps a buyer and costs the agent nothing.

What year is the house? What size is it? (i.e. 24x44) layout, What year was it built and so on. Going to another agent takes more time to find out the details that are almost always missing. Some people may just be in a hurry to get things done.

Plus as noted below, why is the agents name and number on the sign if I was not supposed to call them?

Consider, if buyers are planning on making a low offer that meaning can be lost when it is presented from one realtor to another. When I tell the selling agent I will ofer this and no more they can see I mean it. Then my offer will be presented as a genuine take it or forget any deal. When one rep talks to another rep each has a different perspective of the others client. One agent can see just how each client is willing to work out a deal, or walk away.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009
I find it rather interesting that so many agents/brokers have posted comments here insisting many buyers are ignorant about the real-estate business; the irony is many of those comments showed a similar ignorance about the buyers' line of thinking.

Now, it's time for you to hear from a buyer (an investor) who's not ignorant about the real-estate business.

Although I don't agree entirely with 100% of what Sean wrote, I agree with more of what he wrote than I agreed with what anyone else wrote. However, I disagree with his position on dual agency, and I'll get into that later.

Clearly, based upon most of the comments, it hasn't crossed many of your minds that sometimes it's simply easier to deal with one person rather than two. Ever played the "telephone game"? Sometimes, info gets lost in translation. For example, let's say a buyer tells her agent that the inspector found a few structural issues with the front porch; her agent share the list of structural issues with the listing agent; and the listing agent tells the seller that the buyer wants a new front porch. Although my example is contrived, stuff like this happens all of the time.

Also, based upon most of the comments, it seems that many agents/brokers here assume that most (or all) buyers are incapable of doing simple arithmetic. Obviously, if a buyer wants to pay $100K total for his new home, then he'll have to calculate his offer price like this: offer price = $100K/1.06 - (closing costs) - repairs. (Of course, that formula doesn't take into account several other variables [DOM, absorption rate, etc] that many investors--myself included--will use.)

Additionally, many agents/brokers seem to be so wound up tightly about the various buyer assumptions that they learned in their various classes, that they often don't listen to us. Stop assuming and profiling, and start to listen to us. Anyway, it's already annoying to be ignored by one agent/broker, and it's even more annoying to be ignored by two.

Although I could list several other items, the point is that there are plenty of valid reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with being cheap or ignorant for why some buyers (myself included--in a few cases) to opt for dual agency.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009

Like the flood of "investors" who want to buy properties with no money down.

its a shame people fall for all of this.

but i will sit on the phone and educate them on how "no its not that easy"

Sean Dawes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009
One of the things that has increased the number of people who believe that listing agents will enhance their chances of getting the deal or getting a better deal, is the proliferation of the "Gurus" including Trump(university) who take their money in $1000s of $s and teach them ill advised tactics like this.
This is another thing professionals should realize and reeducate these people.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009

It is legal and, under DC, MD and VA laws - ethical, to have dual agency. However, my broker does not allow this in our agency because of the conflict of interest and potential for law suits. Instead we only do Designated Agency.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009
Hey Gerald,

In large part, it is first-time homebuyers not knowing how the system works to their benefit.

Eight years ago, when I first got interested in buying a house, I would have simply called the number I saw on the for sale sign because I thought THAT was what you do. Why ELSE would a name and number be on the sign, right??

Even after I was introduced by a friend to a real estate agent 7 years ago, who became my Buyer's Agent, even then he did not FULLY explain how it works. Up until we signed our first contract on a condo, I believed I was going to have to pay him a fee for helping me find a home out of my own pocket and was kinda sweating where I was going to get the extra money.

That's why one of the first things I always tell potential buying clients, ESPECIALLY first-time buyers, is that my services are free to them and explain the little details like, what open houses are really for and to carry my cards with them so they don't get hassled by the showing agent trying to pick them up as a client.

Even with all the books out there, "Real Estate for Dummies," etc., a LOT of homebuyers just don't know how or take the time to educate themselves.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009
Ignorance, greed and some lack of integrity.
Ignorance because of not knowing the advantages of representation.
Greed because of trying or thinking of getting advantage of every penny.
Lack of intrgrity , because of wanting to manipulate professionals, who should really protect their clients.

I don't think Trulia is a forum for debate between agents(unless I understood wrong).
But if u read my answer carefully, u can easily elaborate on what I am saying.

Some of us educate these people well on Agency Law and make them clearly understand the need for represntation and stay strong on that. I do know majority of us don't. By not doing the education piece and not standing strongly behind Agency Law, we do injustice to the C(lient)ustomers and ourselves.

For buyers who r reading, my sincere advice is don't be tire kickers, take ur search seriously, build ur stron team of buyer agent and lender and enjoy the house hunting.

For agents, educate ur prospects and stick to agency law and ethics strictly.
Ramesh Chandra
703 635 8209
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009

I am saying it is unethical because lets say you do show the home and the buyer has no agent. Buyer then asks you what you think a fair offer is or they tell you their offer and say "is that good?". Sure you can write it up but you cannot equally represent the interests of both parties properly. Just isnt happening.

A listing agent can submit an offer from someone off the street. The person just needs to provide the offer. Some buyers will just pay an attorney a small fee to have it written up and use that. Why couldnt you submit a non realtor represented contract?

Yes I agree, each of us are entitled to our opinions. Just thought Id share the other side of what could happen as you asked the question about why buyers are doing this as you are seeing a lot of it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
Sean, why in the world would you say something is unethical if it is allowed by the local real estate board? It would be more accurate to say that YOU think it is unethical for dual representation but obviously many people in high places do not.

To me the question comes to this, if someone has the time, expertise and the means to act as their own agent, then they should go for it. I do not think that they will save any money 90% of the time or get a better deal then working with an agent. You may disagree but this is America and everyone is entitle to their opinion without ridicule or name calling.

I am also confused because you say that it is unethical for an agent to work as a dual agent and they should not represent both parties, so in your scenario could the listing agent even submit a contract to the seller from a buyer off the street. Wouldn't the buyer have to get a second agent anyway so that your ethical considerations would be met?
Web Reference: http://www.urbanerealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
What is flawed is the fact that the seller thinks they should pay the % in your scenario since there is no buyers agent is just why realtors get a bad rap.

First why should the sell pay the full commission which half of which is there for a buyers agent generally.

A listing agent should not act as a dual agent (if your state allows it). Its just unethical.

And it does cost the buyer. I love how buyers dont want to pay a commission on say a FSBO but they will use a realtor and buy a house. Buyer is paying more for a house because they are using an agent. However, that agent can get them a better deal and does assist them with a ton of other things.

But if we were to assume that a buyer has the knowledge of a buyers agent and can negioate a price to the same amount, then yes the buyer is paying more to use an agent.

If a seller has a bottom line of $100,000 they know they must add in commissions to their closing costs. So its closing costs plus bottom line to what their true bottom line is.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
Buyers that think that the seller doesn't have to pay a full commission if the listing agent sells the house should think again. Unless the listing agreement states otherwise, the listing agent is entitled to the agreed upon commission stated in the listing agreement not half.

The commission is set between the listing agent and the seller at the time the house is listed. The listing agent pays out whatever percentage (co-op split) from that set amount to any agent that brings a buyer. If the listing agent sells the house they are entitled to the entire commission. Not all listing agents reduce the commission if they sell the house themselves, so the buyer really isn't saving anything in that case.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
Buyers dont NEED to use an agent. You can buy a home yourself. But you better know what you are talking about and know how to price a home.

Just like financial planning. There are tons of people who manage their own finances just fine and do quite well in say the stock market but there are others that find it more difficult to do it.

Same with real estate. I think realtors make this business harder than it actually is. Sure its not a cakewalk but it isnt neuro surgery either. You gotta know your stuff and work your butt off and some people dont have the time to take on these tasks on top of learning the ropes so they hire realtors.

Sean Dawes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
I think many buyers don't understand how this business works. There really isn't anything out there for buyers to get information from that explains how to go about buying a house or what they should do or how to go about getting started.. Buyers that do know how it works may think that by going to the listing agent they can get a better deal on the house.

I don't think that there are too many agents that will turn away a buyer when they call on one of their listings and tell them that they should have their own agent. So if a buyer doesn't understand how it works, they may call off the sign or ad and get the listing agent and not know that they can have their own agent representing them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
Avoid having a buyers agent so they can get a house for less than they would if they had to hire a buyers agent. If they know what its truely worth they can offer a price plus a seller does not have to pay that other half of the commission.

Sean Dawes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
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