Home Buying in Fremont>Question Details

Amy123, Home Buyer in Fremont, CA

Seller Agent also acts as the Buyer Agent in same transaction

Asked by Amy123, Fremont, CA Mon May 11, 2009

I'm a first time home buyer. The seller agent says he can also represent me in purchasing the house, is this something I shoudl go for? Can someone explain to me the difference and advantages of having separate agents. Also if I need a buyer agent, what is the process?

Help the community by answering this question:


Hello Amy and thanks for your question.

In California, the practice of "dual agency" or having one Realtor represent both the buyer and the seller is perfectly legal--and it is one of the activities that many listing agents hope to do because it will mean that the one agent is paid both the commission reserved for the seller's agent as well as the commission to be paid to the agent representing the buyer. In some cases, the fee to be paid to a dual agent can be between 4-6 percent of the total cost of the home, so there is incentive for an agent to serve as a dual agent in a transaction.

For those who are skilled in this field and have successfully completed transactions serving as a dual agent, there should be no loss of confidence that the agent can successfully perform his or her duties for both parties. However, if this is the agent's first foray into dual agency, it might be better to obtain your own buying agent to represent you especially since you are a first-time home buyer. Dual agency is a tricky business (much like having one attorney represent both a husband and wife in a divorce--it can be and often is successfully done by the skilled practioner), and, without proper experience and training, the results can be less than desired--it is the reason that dual agency is not allowed in many other states.

Since you are a first-time home buyer and unfamiliar with the arena of real estate, might I suggest that you obtain your own representative to assist you in your purchase. By having your own agent, you can speak and ask questions freely about the transaction and the "tactics" that you can employ in purchasing your home. As you've already found the home you want, you might also consider using a licensed real estate agent who will service as a "facilitator" andl charge only a small commission to prepare sale documents and help you through the transaction--in this way, you can get the help of a professional while getting back excess commission over the facilitator's fees or have the same overage applied to the cost of the home to reduce the overall sales price to you. For more information, see my blog on "Buying Without An Agent" at the website below.

Good luck in your home purchase!

Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
Tel 408-426-1616
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 14, 2009
Hi Amy,

Thanks for bringing Real Estate Industry’s top question on the table.
It’s called “Agency Relationship” “Who is representing who?”
Let me answer your second question first…

If you want your self a buyer’s agent, you should call 2 or 3 brokers. Make an appointment with them. Think and jot down all the questions you can ask an agent.
Meet with them at their office.

After interviewing at least 3 agents/brokers…ask your self
• Who you feel comfortable working with.
• Who do you think is going to take care of your interest first

Amy, home buying is probably the largest investment homeowners make.
Make sure you put your future in the hands of an experienced, knowledgeable, result oriented and passionate Real Estate professional.

Yes, a seller’s agent can be a buyer’s agent too. One agent can represent both buyers and sellers. That’s called dual agency. A dual agent has fiduciary duty toward both parties.

It’s always good to have your own agent (buyer’s or seller’s) I have a big list items of buyers benefit by having their own agent. I can email that list to you if you wish, or feel free to contact me.

By the way, you are at the right time at the right place… this is the great time to buy
Real Estate, where prices and interest rates both are low in last three decades.
It's buyer's market... before it turns the table buyers should buy now!

Good luck to you,

Charo Bhatt
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 14, 2009
Hello Amy123,

As a first time home buyer... you have a lot of question that needs to be answered.
It is legal for a realtor to represent both seller & buyer in a transaction but the problem in that, is that you are not sure if he is able to represent you in your favor or the sellers favor. You want somebody that would safeguard you and your dealings.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 11, 2009
Yes the seller's agent can double end the deal and represent both parties. However, are you sure that you will be getting the best deal possible. How can he get you into the home for the least amount of money and also get the seller the highest amount of money? The decision is completely up to you but if I were in your position I would get myself a well informed Real Estate professional to represent me in getting me the best deal possible. Let me know if I can help you with a referral of an agent in your area.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 11, 2009
Yes, in CA and some other states the listing agent can also help you the buyer. While it is allowed by the state, in theory most of us (myself included) don't like to represent the buyer and seller at the same time. Since all information about the buyer and seller have to be kept confidential, it is difficult to keep information confidential if you represent both sides. You would be best served by choosing a buyer's agent to represent you. You can find many agents in your area on Trulia or other homes sites on the internet. Read their profile; see which ones you like best; write to the people; see who responds the fastest with the most helpful information; personally interview the ones you like and then narrow the selection down to The ONE you want to work with. The advantage of having a separate agent is your agent works for you. The listing agent works for the seller and represents them. Your agent will fight for you, work hard for you, negotiate for you, advise you of deadlines and what has to be done and the order in which to do it. The buyer agent's services to you are FREE. The agent is paid by the seller. Bearing all of this in mind, immediately start your search today and find yourself an agent. BTW - if you have signed anything with the listing agent or given any verbal commitment to them, cancel anything previously agreed to with a letter explaining that you are getting your own representation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 22, 2010
Amy, having your own separate agent as a buyer means you will have somebody attend to your needs with undivided attention and without conflicts of interest.
Web Reference: http://www.joeyanudon.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 22, 2010
Hi Amy
Being a first time home buyer, you want an agent that will work for you. When a listing agent takes a listing, the seller will open up to the agent sometimes letting them know their bottom line, other information it is the agent's due diligency to work for the seller and keeping there information private. How than can the agent work for you, and be diligent working for you. Having your own agent you know the agent is only working for you and not the seller, getting you the best price. Call me I will happy to go over how I work with the first time home buyer, and how I educate my buyers first than we start looking at homes.
Web Reference: http://www.homesbygill.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 30, 2010

Not to impume some of those in this space, but representing both is a huge potential conflict of interest and must be avoided. Even though I would hope I and others would act in a fair manner, conflicts are unavoidable and are just human nature. For instance, the job of the selling agent is to get the highest price and the job of the buyer agent is to get the lowest price. No matter how fair you are, it is just not possible to avoid favoring one over the other when just considering price. That is just one pitfall of have a duel agency relationship.

As another person said, interview 3 brokers (remember these are hard times and there are deals to be made) and find the one who you connect with and has a good reputation. You could ask this audience for their opinion. For more information on conflicts, see the link. I definately see the value of an agent so disregard the title of the URL, but it lets you see some of the conflicts for better context. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 22, 2010
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