Can I buy without my buyer's agent?

Asked by Reddingite, Massachusetts Tue May 20, 2008

I have been using a buyer's agent for a few months now, but when I had an offer accepted on a house, he started working far harder for his commission than for my best interest. I'd like to put an offer in on another property that I had seen with this agent, but without using him. If I haven't signed a contract with him, is this okay?

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Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Thu Oct 9, 2008
Commission payment and representation often, but do not always run parallel.

Agents are compensated as a result of bringing buyers and sellers together. The agent who showed you the home may, or may not, be entitled to collect a commission. It’s not as simple as showing you a property guarantees the agent payment. However, it does raise the question of who is entitled to payment.

You, as buyer, have the right to representation from an agent who will put your interests first.

I recommend that you find a buyer agent who you believe will put your interest first, and be completely candid with that agent about seeing this property with the other agent. This will allow your new buyer agent to amicably work out the fee arrangement with the first agent, if appropriate, and proceed in representing you in the purchase. In cases like this, it might be that the first agent really is not entitled to any compensation. Or the new buyer agent may work out an arrangement to pay a referral fee or share the commission.

If you don’t mention this to a new agent, it will most likely surface later and possibly become a challenging situation for all if the first agent attempts to claim the commission. Commission payments earned are determined by a set of rules enforced by the local association. Payment is not determined by a buyer’s preference of who they want to receive the payment. You wouldn’t want to mislead a new buyer agent into a situation where their compensation could be removed from them. Simply discuss it upfront with a new agent, and it will be out of the way.

Your options at this time are:
1) Use the buyer agent who originally showed you the property. Not recommended if you do not believe this person is properly representing you.
2) Buy from the sellers agent and not be represented. Not recommended. You won’t save any money and will be working with a representative who has the sellers best interest.
3) Buy from the sellers agent who is acting as a dual agent. Not recommended. How does one serve two masters?
4) Hire a new buyer agent. Recommended. Also, it is recommended to be disclose the past history.

Good Luck
Deborah Madey - Broker
Peninsula Realty Group - New Jersey
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Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Thu Oct 9, 2008

You can definitely buy w/o a buyer's agent, however, we recommend you avoid it....there are just too many things that could happen that would find you in harms way.......

By using an agent you are essentially creating a check and balance system for your transaction. A buyer's agent should look at the transaction activity from your perspective.....

But, you can go solo.....collect as much information as you can about the process and then....make your decision. It looks like you are on your way all ready.

Good luck,
The "Eckler Team"
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Nancy Fudge, Agent, Wilmington, MA
Thu Oct 9, 2008
A few things to consider. 1>Do you have a signed buyer agent contract and, if so, for how long? 2>If you saw the property with this agent, he may argue "procurring cause" meaning he may argue that he should get paid as he's the one that showed you the property. At any rate, you should have a buyer agent to represent your best interest-one that you feel comfortable with- wouldn't suggest going it alone.
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Jeff Cincotta, , Area Homes Realty Watertown, MA
Fri Sep 5, 2008
If the deal fell apart then you can choose any buyers agent you want. I suggest going somewhere else if your agent is focused mainly on comish. The whole idea of having a buyers agent is to represent you and only you. Having one gives you an advantage since you are not up against a sellers agent and the seller. You have a trained professional by your side.
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Melissa Manc…, Agent, Plainville, MA
Thu May 29, 2008
Hi There,

If you put an offer in without a buyer agent (which doesn’t have to be your current one, unless you are in a contract) than you are putting your offer in to the listing agent, who represents the seller. This will place you at a huge disadvantage and you will be out numbered. You will be up against the listing agent and the seller on your own. I would explain to your current agent what your concerns are and start interviewing other buyer agents. Ask your friends and family for recommendations.
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Territory.c…, Agent, MA,
Wed May 21, 2008
New transaction = new beginnings. Again, cut off the chain of events with the current agent and either find another buyers agent or attempt it on your own via contracts supplied by the GBREB.
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Reddingite, Home Buyer, Massachusetts
Tue May 20, 2008
I'm sorry, I should have been more specific. The deal spawning from my accepted offer has since fallen apart. This would be a completely new transaction.
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Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Tue May 20, 2008
So you have an accepted offer on a house, and you are interested in another house? Does this mean you want to back out of your current agreement? Shouldn't you cancel that agreement first? Or are you interested in buyinbg another one in addition to the one you're in escrow with?

In California, when one submits an offer, we include an Agency Relationship Disclosure and Buyer Broker Agreement to indicate who the buyer's agent is. That constitutes the agreement with the agent.

If you have this sort of agreement, and if he has shown you the property that you are interested in, he has the right to represent himself as the procuring cause of the purchase should you decide to write an offer on that other property.

If you are unhappy with your agent, you should fire him....but since you're still in contract/escrow, you should cancel that escrow first, and fire your agent before you start using another. At least give your agent feedback on why you want to terminate his service. It's the right thing to do.
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Mr. Melby, , Milton, MA
Tue May 20, 2008
No buyer agency contract = no way the agent can force the customer to compensate the agent. The agent could launch a procuring cause arbitration against the listing agency, but that is just to force the listing agency to compensate. It wouldn't force the customer to compensate.
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Territory.c…, Agent, MA,
Tue May 20, 2008
Not terribly shocking as real estate agents who aren't salaried and get paid a % of the sale price are technically incentivesed to chase commissions, so unfortunately these situations do happen.

Bottom line, if you aren''t happy with your agent you have every right to move on. If you don't have a contract with this agent the only way he/she could try and keep the commission on this new deal is if they can prove what is called procuring cause via the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Procuring cause is essentially a chain of events that leads to the sale of the property. If you have only seen this property with that agent, have no binding agency contract in place, and have not discussed pricing of the property/submitting an offer, your chances are pretty solid for not having to pay that agent after closing. Obviously there is always a small chance he/she (agent) could win an arbitration through the GBREB after you close on the property, but again if you break the chain of events early (now) and you have no binding agency contract in place those chances are VERY slim.

I don't suggest you make an offer on a property with out RE representation. That is simply because you should have someone who is protecting your interests in the deal by: helping you price the property (you don't want to over pay), being a great negotiator and helping you identify property faults, etc. This is a huge financial investment and having a professional that is making sure you are buying the right property for the right price is crucial.

Now that I have warned you, the answer is, yes, you can make an offer on your own. You can get a contract from the GBREB, fill it out and submit it to the sellers agent, or you could hire an attorney (warning: they are not real estate professionals). If you were to do any of the above, the sellers agent would keep the full 6% commission as the commission is a separate pre-negotiated contractual agreement between the seller and their agent and is essentially buried into your purchase price.

So, your options are: 1) Find a new buyers agent; 2) Find a new buyers agent who is salaried and gets paid a flat fee to avoid any chance of ill-motivations; Or 3) make an offer on your own or with the help of an attorney.

I hope that helps. Best of luck!
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Mr. Melby, , Milton, MA
Tue May 20, 2008
If you have not signed an Exclusive Right to Represent, in Massachusetts, then you are free to make an offer on your own.
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