Home Buying in Washington>Question Details

Dee Brown, Home Buyer in Washington, DC

Should I work with an agent who is also representing the seller of a home?

Asked by Dee Brown, Washington, DC Sat Feb 9, 2013

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Sara Rubida’s answer
I think your question says it all: "representing the seller of a home." Get someone whose first allegiance is to represent You, not someone whose first allegiance and duty of confidentiality is to the seller. While you won't be lied to, you also won't get the full truth and picture about a property. For example, I showed prospective buyers a condo recently. Those buyers declined buyer representation, so by default I had to represent the seller's best interest and say nothing that could impair the seller's position. So I could not disclose to this young couple that the county in coming years would be killing off that great view with tall buildings already in the works; I could only disclose to them any defects for that particular condo unit that were in my own actual knowledge (none, in this case). Similarly, when I have to represent the seller's best interest and I am asked what I think about the price of the property, I have to defend that price, no matter what my opinion and experience tell me. Do I wish I could always be the buyer's representative when working with a buyer? Yes yes yes. It is better for that buyer, including at new home developments--that new home salesperson is working totally for the seller. All that being said, there is an exception. If you are an experienced buyer and feel absolutely confident about the property and what you want to offer, and all you want is someone to put your offer on paper but not to counsel you, you might have the seller's agent do the paperwork for you..
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2013
The choise is yours but common sense would dictate that since the seller already has a relationship with the agent that a "conflict of interest" wouldn't be a remote consideration. Why take the chance....

1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
Thanks! That's what i suspected.
Flag Sat Feb 9, 2013
I agree with what Bill said.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
if you are well experienced in real estate buying then in most cases it is fine. If not you really should have a buyer broker who is looking out for yoru best interest. The listing agent looks out for the seller.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
If you're looking to buy a property, work with a buyers agent. Not just with this house, but in general. Not just any agent too, but one that has been recommend by someone you trust and who you have developed a relationship of trust with. A good agent will be a trusted consultant who will protect your interests and get you the best possible house for the least amount of money. The only time where a buyer should work with a seller's agent is when they themselves have enough knowledge to know exactly what they are getting into. Investing in anything is risky and a house is a big investment. A buyer needs a trusted adviser to help them make they are making an educated decision.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 14, 2013
It depends on how comfortable you are and how much you know, as many mentioned before. Keep in mind that there are rules governing who gets paid. A seller is paying the listing agent a commission to find a buyer and sell the house. They are not automatically paying a buyers agent who steps into the deal half way through and claims to be the buyers agent. There is a 'procuring cause' in each sale (if the rules are the same by you as many places) and that determines not who represents who but who gets paid. If you start negotiating with a listing agent then change your mind and want representation, you may do so having to pay for it yourself. Agency relationships are not tied to who gets paid the commission by the seller through the listing agent. Unless you are very familiar or stumble across it and feel very comfortable with the situation, I'd interview and hire an agent to do some research and work with. Many people end up doing just fine using the listing agent...they love the house, they know what they want and can pay for, everything is explained to them, etc., If you do not feel comfortable doing all that yourself, start working with someone upfront.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 2, 2013
Yes it is fine to do that but having your own buyers agent is sometimes better. Just make sure he sends you comps of other homes that sold in the area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 2, 2013
I know I am coming into this discussion late, but I get asked this question or hear this all the time from buyers.

I would say this if your working with the Sellers Agent because you feel your going to get a better price because your cutting out the middle man, then I would say re think this.

That is not necessarily true, what it says is that you are asking the Sellers agent to take a reduction on his/her commission. Because that's where the first cut will come from. So do you really think that sellers agent is really working for you when it comes to negotiating a price. You will probably will still pay close to list price if not list price.

I also would say it's like opening the book to all your negotiating tactics and financial history and putting it all on the table to the seller agent who works for the seller. I know they'll say they won't share your information. How can you fairly be represented.. If you are comfortable with having no representation and by the way it cost you nothing for a buyer agent. The Seller is paying for that, and by the way By the way, it's not to late to Get Your Own Agent. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 21, 2013

Just depends on your comfort level with the agent and contract and terms.

good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 19, 2013
Hi there,

It really depends on the agent, such as if you know the agent and trust them, but it is always a good idea to have your own buyer agent. When an agent is in the situation of dual representation (both buyer and seller) then what they are supposed to do is represent the contract, not really either side of it.

The way agency works is that all agents who show houses, whether it is their listing or not, are by law agents of the seller. The ONLY way they represent YOU in the process is if you have signed an exclusive buyer's agency contract. They may say they represent you without the contract, but legally they are an agent of the seller because that is what state law, their licensing commission and broker agree to when they obtain their license.

Even if you are a seasoned pro at buying houses, it's a good idea to have your own representation. FYI: Dual Agency is actually illegal in Maryland, as it is allowed in Virginia and DC. When in Maryland, Dual Agency only applies to the broker - not the agent. So when in Maryland, if you call a listing agent from a sign in the yard of a property and they show it to you, they cannot represent you if you decide to write an offer. They can perform what is called "ministerial acts" and help you fill out the contracts, but you will be unrepresented in the process. Their broker can assign another agent from their office to represent you, if you wish to have representation, though.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 10, 2013
Let's just say my brokerage does not allow dual agency - which is what it's called when one agent represents both parties. Besides the obvious issue of the seller being in control what can and does really happen is that in a case of conflict of interest the agent can do nothing. Suppose the appraisal comes back below contract price. The agent can inform but not advise since he/she must remain neutral. Is this what you're paying for?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
If you feel confident that you understand your rights, understand the current market, understand the law and can stand up for yourself then you may be able to negotiate a good deal for yourself. If you would feel more comfortable knowing that a professional is looking out for your best interests, then use a Buyer's Agent. The listing agent should be able to refer you to at least 2 agents to choose from or you can contact any of the pros who have responded here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
In DC an agent is allowed to represent both buyer and seller if each side agrees. It is very hard to represent both sides equally. The choice is yours but it would really be in your best interest to have your own agent who represents just you. Good luck.

Michelle Buckman
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013

That is your call. Do remember the sellers agent is working for the seller and their best interest, trying to get the seller the best price. You do have the option of having a buyers agent who can help you out along the home buying process and is looking out for your best interests. Here is some info on why to use an ABR: http://rebac.net/why_use_an_abr.cfm

Good luck!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
It is really not in your best interest. Since you are going to pay a commission either way, it makes a lot more sense to work with someone who will negotiate on your behalf. It is your agent's responsibility to help you "find out what you do not know." It's the unknowns that catch inexperienced buyers and sellers. Working with an agent who represents the seller could cost you thousands of dollars. Please contact me if you need a buyer's agent. I would be happy to view the property and write an offer quickly. 410-340-6425
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
Agreed with the above. Who would they be looking out for? Would they be trying to get the most money for the seller (and making you spend more), or getting you the best deal (and not getting top dollar for the seller).

This is called "dual representation", and can often wind up making at least one party feel cheated. Email me if you have some more DC specific questions: michael@houseguydc.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2013
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