Home Buying in Seattle>Question Details

Char, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

What are the risks/benefits of using a dual agent single agent? Is this something to avoid or is it possible.?

Asked by Char, San Francisco, CA Mon Apr 15, 2013

I am a buyer who as been working with a really wonderful/trustworthy realtor. I met her at an open house for a listing i liked. At the time I had another realtor, we were going to put in an offer, and then i changed my mind. Well after some time, i contacted her because she knew the area i had become interested in the best. She has shown me several houses. Well, now, the house she is selling is back on the market. It had an offer and was taken off for about a year and now it is back on the market. Assuming the offer fell through.

How do i go about putting an offer on that house.
Its being sold at 445. its zillow value is 424 (used to be higher- but has decreased. don't know why!). i was going to put in 432, hoping to ultimately counter at 435 as the highest. what do you think of an offer like this. am i being too greedy or should i investigate further why zillow values the house less? should i investigate what happened with the previous offer.

Help the community by answering this question:


SB 5352 which will go into effect hits on some of the dual agency issues. Some will say that it changes current law on dual agency, but I would say it clarifies existing law on dual agency to be consistent with what I stated below. More on that here:

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 1, 2013
I totally agree with what others are saying below & in fact we all know each other here on Trulia. I would not use this agent on this house unless it is a short sale & then make sure she is representing you as well as the seller legally. Otherwise, have a conversation with all of us & pick the best fit for you to have one of us represent you.

Good luck to you in any case,
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate Team
Champions Real Estate Services
TriStar Finance #MLO-107799
Office: 425-483-6849 Cell: 206-841-9976
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
To further what Ardell said, IF the agent is only acting as the listing agent, and IF you tell her what you're willing to pay, that agent is under a legal duty to pass that information along to the seller. You will have entirely lost any negotiating position.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
First, ignore Zillow. Zillow's 'Zestimate' is little more than a gimmick. It's an approximated value created by a software program, and does not have the ability to examine all the many unique features of the home.

Dual agency is challenging, and many agents will not act as a dual agent. I will not act as a dual agent. However, on occasion I have written up an offer for a buyer, but represented the seller as the listing agent. In such rare instances, I disclose that I am representing only the seller, and I always encourage the buyer to have an attorney review the purchase & sale agreement.

Typically, a buyer feels the need to have their own buyer's agent, and that's what most agents will recommend. However, in a heated real estate market where there are competing bids, I can understand the rationale of placing yourself in the hands of the listing agent in order to gain some advantage in negotiations. After all, it can be assumed the agent will exert more effort to get your offer accepted if he/she is receiving both the listing and the selling commissions.

Dual agency can work out, but you'd be best represented by having your own agent. Your own agent can delve into why the first sale fell apart. Perhaps there are serious structural problems with the home? And, your own agent will be able to give you give you a fresh opinion of value.

Job #1 for the listing agent is representing the seller, and selling the home for highest price. The listing agent's goal is not to secure both the listing & selling commissions. Most listing agents are perfectly happy receiving the listing commission, and working with a buyer's agent who will be paid the selling commission at the conclusion of the sale.

Good luck with your decision, either way.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
Odd that she would not contact you if she is your agent now and was putting the home where you met back on market. Call her and tell her you want to make an offer, and see what she has to say before telling her anything about price or details. It is possible given she has not contacted you that she is not willing to write the offer on her own listing, and will require you to use a single, buyer's agent.

Talk to her first...but without revealing any details about how much you do or don't like the house or any info as to what the offer would say. Be honest about your question raised here. The seller would have to agree to "dual agency" as would you. The seller may not want their agent to have a divided interest by being a Dual Agent.

As to how much you should offer, be sure to see it again now with THE agent you will be using, before making any final conclusions. A year is a long time and YES, absolutely ask why the previous offer fell through. That is one BIG advantage of at least talking to her now, as she would know best what happened last year.

Note Kary's comment re the agent writing it as the representative of the seller only. Be very mindful that custom here would be for the Listing Agent to write it BUT not represent you at all! That is determined in the offer on line 16 and most often seller is checked for both Listing and Selling Broker when one agent writes the offer on their own listing. If she agrees to write the offer...that does NOT mean she is going to be a Dual Agent or represent you in any way. DO NOT reveal any details until you are clear on that, as she likely will be talking to you now as the representative of the seller vs your agent or even a dual agent.

Single agent for the SELLER and not you is the norm here, and mostly undisclosed as well, except for that checkbox on line 16. By the time you see that it is too late, as you have already revealed all of the things you should not by then. Terrible practice, but clearly the norm here. They avoid "dual agency" by not representing you at all...which is not better for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
BTW, are you meaning to ask your question for Washington, where you posted, or California, where you are located. The answer to both questions could be different in different states.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
Great questions Ash,

Dual agency is a tricky position to be in for an agent. An agent cannot provide the level of service required to both parties. On one hand, it is the agent's job to get the highest price for his/her seller, and on the other hand, it is the agent's job to get the best deal for his/her buyer. Being a dual agent you have to remain very neutral so that you don't betray one of your clients in some way...it's not worth it. I am not interested in being a dual agent and I would never advise someone to enter into dual agency. You will find the best representation when you are represented by one agent and the seller is represented by another agent.

You definitely want to investigate what happened with the previous offer and why the sudden drop in zillow's value estimate (although just because zillow says the house is worth 424k doesn't mean it's true). These important questions should be answered and you should be able to trust your agent to find the answers...a dual agent may not discuss everything with you as the buyer to protect his/her client the seller, and maybe the agent will tell you all of the details which could weaken his/her seller's position...there again lies the trouble with dual agency.

Hope you find the answers you're looking for on here. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
First, I would totally ignore Zillow. It is not very accurate, so not something you should base any decisions on. Your ability to negotiate price will depend much more on the market in that particular area for that type of house.

Second, I can't tell what you're asking about with a dual agent from the facts you're giving. In Washington unless you've signed a buyer's agency agreement with an agent, it's very unlikely you really have dual agency (as opposed to the agent incorrectly thinking they are a dual agent.) If the agent has a listing agreement on a house, then chances are they would always be the seller's agent. If the agent does not have a listing agreement, then chances are they are the buyer's agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
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