beccasa, Other/Just Looking in Boston, MA

San Diego has become a sellers market. When I see a house I want, should I go to the seller's agent or get my own?

Asked by beccasa, Boston, MA Sun Feb 3, 2013

I know it is better to have a buyer's agent to represent me in normal circumstances, but in a tight market - with multiple offers - wouldn't the selling agent try to push the one where s/he would get all the commission?

Help the community by answering this question:


I believe that generalization is false more times than not. The seller's agent needs a buyer who will close - period. And you are doing yourself a major dis-service by going to them directly because then you are essentially unrepresented as the seller's agent has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller that trumps anything they can do to help you.

A good buyer's agent who can present you in the best light and build a solid rapport with the listing agent is a better approach. Further, the less uncertainty you can provide as a buyer will also go a long way. In other words, solid credit, a good down payment, clean offer, etc. That's not to say you can't be successful with 3.5% down FHA or whatever, but in multiple offer situations, it becomes a bit of a beauty contest and you have to find every way you can to look good.

With all that said, yes, there will be times when you will come up against a concrete wall and not be let in by a listing agent because they are operating on a different ethical plane - the truth is it happens - but as a buyer, I wouldn't want to be involved with those listing agents in the first place. They are bad news. Don't build your strategy around them - there are a lot of good agents out there that genuinely do the right thing and will put your offer first if it deserves to be there. But again, it goes back to having a good buyer agent to present you in the best light.

CA DRE 01775528
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 3, 2013
There are a few ways to look at this. Certainly, at times, your chances of getting an offer accepted could be better when you use the listing agent. At the same time. many agents will not work with both the buyer and seller because it could be considered a conflict of interest. Even the agents that do work with both sometimes have a hard time fairly negotiating, etc. Also, some sellers do not prefer for the listing agent to be in dual agency with the buyer.

Honestly, my recommendation is to find a buyer's agent that you trust that is knowledgeable. It is SOOOOOOO important to have an agent that is fighting for YOU! It is critical to your success that you are represented fairly and honestly. This goal is often best achieved when each party has their own agent.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!

Theresa Mack
Coldwell Banker
(858) 230-4850
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 3, 2013
You ask, "Wouldn't the selling agent try to push the one where she/he would get all the commission?"
Of course!
However, (there's always a however isn't there?) in many situations the listing agent has protected the home seller regarding this occurrence. For instance, I state in the listing contract that if the buyer is not represented by a real estate professional, the aggregate compensation paid is reduced. THE HOME SELLER WILL SAVE MONEY!. There is no 'listing agent' economic motivation to 'push' in this case, Only the pursuit of solutions for the seller and buyer exist.
Unfortunately, no one knows what the compensation agreement reads as agreed to by the home owner and their agent. IN other cases, and you can not know which ones, the listing agent WILL do the happy dance. This fully compensated agent has a duty to make the best deal possible for the home seller, often at the expense of the buyer and definately beneficial to the agent.
You should seek a professional to represent you. Economically, it makes little difference for those sellers whose agent has provided for this situation, but it does provide you benefits, resources, expertise, strategies and assurances you do not have access to otherwise.
There are some well defined situations where working with the listing agent is the best idea. But, that's not the question you asked.
When you repeatedly read, "Compensation for real estate professionals is always negotiable," you can see that is true. When a citizen does not fully understand the complexities of real estate, and throw inordinate trust in Uncle Burl or Zillow or other internet sources, they tend to always elect the most devious choice in regards to intentions of professionals. You will find that real estate professionals overwhelmingly only want to do what is beneficial to the buyer and seller and get the job done as quickly and minimal stress and anxiety. It is working with these like minded professionals that brings the sunshine into this business. But still, as your question suggests, the insistence that there must always exist a dark motive prevails. Give a pro a call and reap the benefits.

Best of Success to you
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 5, 2013
Hi Beccasa,
I think the responses below are pretty much in line. The benefits of using the listing agent as your own agent as a strategy are outweighed by the benefits of having your own representation. It is all a matter of picking the right agent to represent you and your needs. You need to have an agent that has the knowledge, passion and work ethic to fight for you and do everything possible to get your offer accepted. Experience and integrity are what you should look for. If I can help you further, please let me know.

Sinead McAllister
McAllister Homes Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 5, 2013
I think Elisa's example illustrates what a "not so good" buyer's agent will do. They are caught in another market where a buyer can ask for additional things and the seller is compelled to agree because there is no other offer out there and they want to sell.

It's pretty straight forward in this market, the cleaner an offer the better your chances. BUT, that doesn't mean you give in completely and the listing agent's job is to get as much out of you as they can. Listing agents are happy to double their commission to sign a buyer up, but that doesn't mean that is in the best interest of the buyers. In fact, many REO agents, when they know they have a listing coming up on an REO property, will put their sign up on the property weeks before the property is actually live on the MLS, just to get sign calls in hopes of finding a buyer on their own. So you are right in terms of the mentality. The thing is today, there are not so many REOs on the market as there were a year or two years ago, so it is not as much of an issue as it used to be....which is why a good buyer's agent is your answer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 4, 2013
Good question. I'm glad you know that having your own agent is better...many agents don't know that.

An honest Realtor with integrity (yes there are a few left!) won't push any offer. The agent's job is merely to present offers and let the seller decide based on the merits of the offers. I suppose that there may be a time or two where having the listing agent on your side is helpful...

That said, I can't get behind using the listing agent as a strategy. While it may help you 'get' a deal, you don't really know what type of deal you're getting!

Please let me know if I can assist you in any way. I've learned a number of tricks along the way and am fighting multiple offers every day!

Good luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 4, 2013
Bottom line is all Seller's are looking for the highest, strongest offer. Having worked as a Listing agent for many bank owned properties over the last 6 years I often find that in trying to do the best job for their clients many Buyers agents often add in alot of services for the Seller i.e (termite, home warranty, etc) to pay that comes right off the Sellers botom line. Unfortunately in doing this, often it is the difference for that Buyer in getting an accepted offer or not.
If you do select a Buyers Agent that is separate from the Listing Agent make sure you are aware what fees they are asking the Seller for that could mean the difference in your offer being accepted, Especially in the current market conditions!
Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 4, 2013
Theresa wrote the verse, Bill wrote the chorus, so I'll attempt to write the bridge!

You can buy your way to the top - all cash, no contingencies, most money - but, you may wind up with the property.

If you team up with an agent, then maybe, just maybe, you can craft offers on properties that suit you better, so that if you do wind up winning, you'll be happy with what you get.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 3, 2013
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