Home Buying in 55124>Question Details

Todd Stute, Both Buyer and Seller in Apple Valley, MN

Should we allow the seller's realtor to represent us when purchasing a home, as well as sell our existing home?

Asked by Todd Stute, Apple Valley, MN Sun Sep 19, 2010

We've been looking at homes on our own and recently found something that we may be interested in purchasing. We still need to get our home listed and find a realtor, however, the seller's realtor has offered to represent us in the new home purchase and to sell our existing home. I feel uncomfortable with this arrangement as my vision of a realtor's job is to advocate for me and help me get the best home and price. How can a realtor effectively be an agent to both the buyer and seller? I realize that a realtor stands to make more money in a situation like this.

Help the community by answering this question:


Shauna, I am in complete agreement with you. Although a listing agent for the seller of the home you are interested in may be a rockstar, the bottom line is that listing agent has a duty to his/her seller first. In my opinion, I would find a great Realtor to help you with the sale of your home and in assist you in purchasing your new home.

Very best wishes to you!
Web Reference: http://www.sherrisherpy.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 20, 2010
Good morning Shauna,

I am an experienced broker in Minnesota (Apple Valley like you!) and know that great agents can handle this type of transaction fairly. That agent would be considered a DUAL agent and you would sign a FACILITATOR document so that you are not represented by any agent. You would have one agent facilitating the deal, but that agent would not be advocating for either side - just there to make sure the deal gets done.

If you are an experienced buyer then this would be just fine, but you would need to understand that you would be given only minimum information, and in exchange you can usually offer less of a purchase price (since the one agent will not have to share the commission with another agent). The agent doesn't need to make much more in commission - you can take it off the listing price!

If you still are not comfortable with dual agency, please feel free to contact me in representing you as the buyer. And I'd be glad to get your current home sold! I am in independent broker with many options for buyers and sellers!

Sue Straub, Broker, GRI, Realtor
Royal Real Estate
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
You answered your own question when you said that you feel uncomfortable. If you're still hesitant you should understand the pros and cons of dual agency. Every situation is different as are every Realtor and buyer. The cost to you should generally be the same as buyer whether you go with the sellers agent or find your own.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 2, 2014
Hi Shauna,

There are very strong opinions regarding dual agency which is what you're referring to. To take that even a step further the question can also be made as to whether or not you should use an agent who works out of the same office space, and who may work closely with the sellers agent. For an agent who has good moral standards and who are ethical I believe dual agency can be effective and mutually beneficial for both parties, though it can limit just how much that agent can advocate for either party.

Without dragging this discussion out I will say that you hit the nail on the head when you said in your question that you feel uncomfortable. Buying AND selling a home is a lengthy process that you need to be 100% comfortable with. Don't move forward without having clarity on the pros and cons of dual agency. Understand all aspects and then if you're still not comfortable, hire another agent. Best of luck :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 4, 2013
Dual agency is not as terrible as some of these agent's make it out to be. Similar to the way that you found this listing agent, many buyer and sellers do the same. It’s not uncommon for an interested party to see a for sale sign, call to inquire and end up working with the Sellers agent. In today's market the majority of agents have diversified and work with both buyers and sellers so it’s not surprising this Realtor asked to help you with your other transactions.

Let's remove the mystery from dual agency and talk about what it mean to you as both a home buyer and seller. When you list your home for sale your Realtor is going to ask if you agree to dual agency (it's in both the Minnesota buyers and sellers contacts). What this means is "would you allow any potential buyers who are represented by our brokerage to purchase your home"? It's not just a buyer working with your agent, it could be a client of another agent who happens to work for the same brokerage(company). Most sellers agree to dual agency because if you want to sell your home, it’s best to make it available to everyone. Alternatively , when you go to buy a home, you'll be asked if you agree to see any listings under contract by agents working at the same brokerage. Again, most buyers agree.

Ask yourself this question: If you're listing agent worked hard to market your home and found buyer who wanted to write an offer, would you decline it? This is actually a very common scenario. Potential buyers call off the real estate add, or find the home listed online and inquire in the same way you did. Although not as common, clients are also found during open houses.

Now that you’re more familiar with the finer details of dual agency in Minnesota, it sounds like you might be uncomfortable working with this particular listing agent for your needs. I would suggest that you choose to seek your own representation. If you still don’t like the idea of one agent helping you fulfill all of your real estate needs, consider finding an agent who only “lists” or sells homes to focus exclusively on marketing your property. You’ll also need to find a buyer’s agent to help you locate your dream home. In the scenarios above, you may be more comfortable agreeing to a dual agency transaction.

When looking for an agent, it pays to shop around.. In today’s (central Minnesota) market you will spend money to sell your home. The average commission on a listing contact is about 6% of the sales price. Out of that 6% a portion (usually 2.7%) get's paid to the buyers Realtor. You may find an agency offering 5% listing services but beware cheaper isn't always better. An added item to consider is that you may be able to reduce your selling fees if you agree to allow your listing agent to assist you in buying your new home. You can ALWAYS negotiate. Also you can expect to contribute to the buyers closing costs. Your listing agent can prepare a sellers net sheet to give you an idea of what to expect. You should really focus on who’s selling your home, what they charge and what’s included in that price. I know that the cost of selling can be hard to swallow but think of it this way, you’ll recoup those costs on the buy side (because the home sellers will be paying all your Realtor commissions and contributing to your closing costs).
Make sure to ask these important questions when interviewing:
1. What type of marketing plan do you have for my listing? (signs, website, mailers, ads etc)
2. How well do you know my area and what can you do locally to attract buyers?
3. Tell me about your company's/ your media presence?
4.What’s included in your services?
5. Tell me about your real estate experience… What designations/certifications do you have?
6.How can you help me find the perfect home?

Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends, co-workers or family who they would recommend. Referrals are one of the greatest compliments an agent can get and chances are if your acquaintance had a positive experience you will too!

I’m part of the #1 team in Minnesota for 2009 with over 700 home sold. You can contact me at Jennifer@mnrealestateteam.com if I can be of assistance or visit http://www.mnrealestateteam.com to learn more.

Best of luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 20, 2010
No and maybe.

No: The seller's Realtor should not represent you in the new home purchase. The other answers already explain why. It's not illegal and it's not immoral. But it doesn't best represent your interests.

Maybe: If you feel really comfortable with that one agent--after interviewing 3 or more other agents--then you can consider using her in the sale of your existing home.

Point is: It's seldom in the best interests of the buyer for the buyer to be using the same agent as the seller is.

Hope that helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
What the agents from Minnesota have failed to tell you is that the agent you mention can also represent you as a Facilitator (as the buyer of the home he/she has listed), where you can select the duties they must fulfill. When I have a buyer come in unrepresented on one of my listings, I typically do not do Dual Agency, but choose to represent them as a Facilitator. A Facilitator only owes confidentiality, unless you add additional duties to the representation agreement, if you would like to learn more, I would be more than happy to go over it with you.

I personally don't see anything wrong with Dual Agency, and a good agent can represent two different clients in the same transaction with no problems. If you have this agent list your home, he/she IS your advocate for the sale of your home, they will help you get the best home for the price because the representation of the listing side of these two different homes have nothing to do with the other. The only thing you truly might want to consider is whether you feel comfortable having this agent represent you on the buy side of the house you wish to purchase. Go with your gut, and if your first instinct is NO, then find another agent to represent you on the buy side. There are many good Twin Cities agents listed here on Trulia that would be willing to help, so interview a few and see what you think.

If you have a question about Apple Valley, feel free to contact me as I know the city well...just live right outside of it. :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Great instincts!! You are right on! An agent cannot effectively be in "two places at the same time". Even if you were not under contract with the listing agent, he still cannot provide you with details that may slight the sellers. Best to get your own agent. By the way, it costs you nothing to hire your own representation! I would like to apply for pleasure to help you navagate the real estate market!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010

Wow, Shauna, your question is at the very heart of what we try to explain to buyers/sellers at the outset of a transaction: WHO REPRESENTS WHO!!! If an agent is not disclosing all of this information to you at the "first substantive contact", then they're not doing their job. Now, unfortunately, WHEN the first substantive contact occurs is subject to interpretation by the agent. My take, anything after "hello" constitutes substantive.

You are correct, if the agent representing the current sellers represents YOU and these sellers, there will be a situation of Dual Agency to which, you and the sellers, must sign a paper that you'll agree to allow this agent to represent BOTH of you in this transaction. If this same agent lists your house and finds a buyer for the house him/her self, then you will AGAIN have a Dual Agency representation.

When I worked as an exclusive buyer agent, I was able to provide the absolute purest representation possible for my buyers. But, there are very few real estate companies that can provide you with exclusive agency representation and still be able to show you all of the available properties. It's complicated!!

I'd say it's more about how you FEEL about this agent. If your gut tells you this person will do a good job for you no matter what, then there is a level of integrity there that will stand you in good stead. Nonetheless, if you just don't want this type of representation, then find another agent to represent you on the purchase and the sale of your current home. Contact me if you have any other questions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Hi Shauna,

You can have the Seller's Realtor represent both parties as long a both agree to Dual Agency. This has to be in writing and signed by both parties before he/she brought you through the home. The most important thing to remember is all confidential information must remain confidential with each party. If you had not signed anything with the Listing Agent and discussed your motivation on the home or price, he is obligated to relay this information to his Seller Client.

If you desire separate representation, you can enlist the services of another Realtor or ask the listing agent to refer someone in his office to assist you ( however the listing agent might dispute this, since he/she already brought you in to see the property 'procurring cause'). As a dual agent, he/she must treat everyone fairly & honestly, show you comparable listings, help with inspection issues, disclose all material defect he/she knows about the home, & help you with financial alternatives. He/she cannot suggest a price to start with or respond back to in counter-offers. Make sure you get the representation owed to you.
Best of luck! David
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Here is a copy of the agency disclosure form in Minnesota: http://www.suehakes.com/PDF/Disclosure.pdf

If you buy the house directly from the listing agent, you would either be in a Dual Agency situation OR have no representation with the agent operating as a Seller's Agent only. Sue is incorrect in that you cannot have a facilitation agreement with an agent that is already representing the seller since that agent is not facilitating... they are representing!

You may be able to take an additional amount off the price of the house by not bringing in your own agent but this would have to be clearly negotiated - unless the listing agreement says otherwise, the listing agent collects the same commission whether you are represented by another agent or not.

If the listing agent has shown you the house the agent could get into a dispute with the agent you bring in to the transaction later, saying that your decision to purchase was made because of his actions and not your (new) agent. If you do sign a representation agreement with a different agent it will be important that it is clear whether you would owe that agent a commission if he/she does not collect one from the listing agent.

As others have said, it is good to seek the advice and counsel of an independent party.

Good luck to you!

Aaron Dickinson
Edina Realty
Web Reference: http://www.mnseller.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010

The situation you describe certainly "works" - but more for your Realtor/broker than yourself! It is very common for a Realtor to represent a Seller and assist them as a Buyer in the purchase of their next home. No conflict of interest exists. The Realtor, in both cases, has only the best interests of their client in mind throughout both transactions.

However, the situation where a Realtor/Broker represents BOTH sides of a transaction (i.e. the Seller of the home you are attempting to purchase AND you, the Buyer) is called a Dual Agency. Actually, few brokers that I know like this situation as it's fraught with risk for the brokerage and doesn't give full representation to the client. But it DOES bring in commission income for the brokerage!

Here's an interesting question: When the Realtor who is currently assisting you in selling your home and buying another now also represents the Seller of your next home, doesn't he/she already know intimate details about your financial situation (i.e. the amount you are qualified for) regarding the purchase of your next home? For that reason alone, I would recommend avoiding the situation you are considering and hiring a Realtor to act as your Buyer's Representative. It will more fully protect YOUR interests in the purchase of your next home.

Our company is a Single-Agency only brokerage. We will never enter into the agreement you mention above, believing that it does not conform to our policy of "addressing the needs of our clients first and at all times." If you'd like to see a discussion of the "Why use a Single Agency brokerage", please click on that hotlink on our home page (or cut/paste this link into your browser).


Margo and I wish you good luck in your transactions, Shauna - I'm sure it is an exciting time for you. Please make certain all of your needs and interests are looked after by a qualified Realtor!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Shauna, if you feel uncomfortable with it already, don't do it. You can very easily find another Realtor to help you. Good luck with your decision.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
There have been great answers; even in your question you doubt the fact this agent can effectively work for you. I would say its in your best interest to interview other Realtors to work with.
Web Reference: http://www.lennyfrolov.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
do you feel comfortable with that agent? Do you trust them? How much harder will this person work to get the job done? What kind of reputation do they have?
Like other have said, if you run into a problem, it could get sticky. You just have to weigh your options.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010

To do so may be to invite unnecessary problems.......

If you were involved in a court case, would you feel comfortable having the same attorney represent both parties?

Agents involved in dual representation may tell you that they can be objective and represent both sides of the transaction but when sensitive issues are encountered, you will likely question their loyalty....

Our position is, Why take the chance?

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
I really have to say "don't do it!" With respect to the first thoughtful response, I truly believe that when you walk into a situation where you are only seeing homes with the listing agents (open houses etc), it is much like walking into court without a lawyer. That agent has a previous relationship with the sellers and a sworn duty to assist them. That agent will be doing everything possible to encourage an offer and a high offer for his/her client. They may or may not be able to represent you well on the sale of your own home, but they can never do a good job representing you on your purchase. In my opinion, this should be enough to make you want to find the opinion of a another competent agent. The situation you describe of having one agent on both sides of a single transaction is called "dual agency" which is legal in Minnesota, however, by law that agent is very limited in their ability to represent you. I do not see any problem with having one agent represent you on the sale of your home, as well as the purchase of another, as this does not represent a conflict of interest and in many cases, can add needed continuity to the process as the sale of your home is closely related to the purchase of your new one.

Keep in mind that this is a buyer’s market, you really owe it to yourself to go out there and get the best deal you possibly can. Doing that without expert representation will be extremely difficult at best. A good buyer agent is going to help you significantly reduce the price of the home you purchase as well as offer you invaluable perspective throughout the process. Not to mention, that you are not paying any more for that representation, as it is already assumed that you will have your own agent, and that agent will be paid by the seller’s broker.
When you are talking about making what is often the most important financial decision of your life to date, I really believe it is in your best interest to seek expert council. You only have one shot at this as you won’t see a market like this again. If you want to hear me ramble on more, feel free to contact me. Best of luck,
Web Reference: http://www.adamduckwall.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Regarding the purchase of the home, I would absolutely seek your own representation with a buyer's agent you feel comfortable with.
Dual agency is a tricky, highly contested practice. In NJ it is legal and many times, can work smoothly. However, transactions, more often than not, do NOT go smoothly and in that case, having an agent who is only looking out for your best interests can make all the difference.
In my state, as soon as an agent becomes a dual agent, that agent essentially becomes neutral and can't act in an advisory capacity regarding negotiations or anything that may compromise the other side.
This is not ideal for either buyer or seller.
I would investigate how dual agency works in your state.

Regarding the sale of your home, that is for you to decide. Both purchasing and selling a home is a huge thing and finding an agent who you know will do their absolute best for you is obviously extremely important.

I would suggest, before you make a decision, you interview a number of different agents, get a feel for each of them and see how they compare. Do not rush this process. There are a lot of mediocre and less than stellar agents out there. There are also a lot of absolutely wonderful agents. You want to be sure you hire one of the latter group because you are dealing with presumably the most significant investments of your life.

Good luck with everything!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Hi Shauna, agree with Scott that you should interview several agents for the job of selling your home and the possibilitiy of assising you with a purchase. Certainly an agent that is doing both will be highly motivated to get the home sold so that the purchase can occur. But the fact of the matter is that motivation, commitment, and engagement should be critical evaluation criteria in any case.

Just yesterday I was interviewed by a seller to list their home. They had lined up a number of interviews and while a bit awkward to wait outside while one ended, and know that another was waiting in the wings, I told them that they were starting off on the right foot. This is an important decision you are making - on both sides, and make no mistake the agent you choose does make a difference.

I am always surprised when sellers choose the first agent that crosses their path - or walk into an office or call and award their listings to whomever is sitting at the desk without any consideration to experience/qualifcations.

Open Houses are another forum where agents look for clients - and sellers/buyers look for agents. My suggestion to you is to include this agent among those you interview for the job. Ask this very question to her and others and make your own decision on whether you are comfortable with the same agent handling both your sale and purchase. I am an agent that represents both sellers and buyers and so I believe it can be done well and fairly, but this is a decision only you can make.

Good luck to you,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
Shauna you will receive 2 distinct opinions by those agents that are predominately buyer agents and another from those who are predominately listing agents. Some agents only work with buyers and do a great job getting them teh best deal, others are superstars at listing. A few agents can do both and and do a great a job at both. The first thing is you need to feel comfortable. If this is agent is one of the leaders and can handle both, you could be well taken care of. If not, you need someone who can work with you as a buyer and get you your best deal. As well when selling your house, you dont want an agent who predominately works with buyers, you want a listing superstar who can give your house the exposure it deserves to get it sold. You may need 2 agents but may be able to find that 1 agent that stands out and can do both.

You need to interview teh agents, ask them what they can offer, tell them what you expect and determine if tehy are a good fit for your situation. Good luck with your sale and your new purchase.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 19, 2010
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