If I see something I like at an open house, should I work with the agent there or find myself a buyer's agent?

Asked by Anonymous, New York, NY Wed Mar 11, 2009

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Jenet Levy, Agent, New York, NY
Wed Jul 24, 2013
Just one person, RIchard, who is on a spree of answering old questions based upon what's coming to my inbox.
2 votes
Dana Schuster, Agent, Slidell, LA
Wed Mar 11, 2009
It's your choice. if you are already working with an agent,it's only fair to let the agent there know this. otherwise you can go with anyone you want.
1 vote
Donald Mituz…, Agent, Chappaqua, NY
Sun Jul 28, 2013
Janet and Richard you are both correct. Some just want to get the VIP badge (big deal) and will answer anything regardless of how old or irrelevant it is. Then there are those who jump in once it starts and give one line elaborations for the same purpose as a couple have. Answering questions over a certain age should be prevented by Trulia as all in all Trulia has a very good useful website.

Don Mituzas
Licensed Associate Broker
Douglas Elliman Real Estate
0 votes
Dennis Evans, Agent, Clifton Park, NY
Thu Jul 25, 2013
Buyers agent is a good choice as they work for you!
0 votes
Andrew Watson, Agent, brooklyn, NY
Thu Jul 25, 2013
A buyers agent works for you and will increase your closing cost but works in your best interest. A sellers agent is cheaper but is not working in your best interest
0 votes
Elena Ravich,…, Agent, New York City, NY
Tue Jul 23, 2013
As you may know, agents that show apartments at open houses are seller's agents - they are hired by the seller for the sale of the apartment as the seller's representatives/agents. They have a duty to work in the best interest of the seller and sell apartment at the highest price possible to the best potential candidate.

This being said, you can choose to work with the seller's agent or use your own buyer's agent, who will become your representative, will have to act in your best interests, as well as negotiate the best price possible on your behalf with the seller's agent. Services of the buyer's agent are not paid upfront - 2 agents share commission specified in the listing agreement with the seller at the closing.

In NYC most brokers are members of Real Estate Board of New York and they have universal co-broke requirement, meaning that they have to cooperate and co-broke with each other on all the listings and share commission.
0 votes
Jenet Levy, Agent, New York, NY
Thu Apr 16, 2009
This is something only your conscience can answer. If that listing agent is holding an open house, and you went on your own without a buyer's agent bringing you, registering you or sending you, and you did not sign in as having an agent, no one really earned a commission here other than the listing agent. I can understand that you might want a professional negotiating on your behalf. That is why it is best to work with a knowledgable agent from the start. But is someone entitled to step in now and take half the commission after you've done the legwork and they are just putting an offer in for you? Well, you have the right to bring someone in, but again, have they earned half the commission. If you haven't found the place yet, and this is hypothetical, my advice would be get together with a really good agent now who will focus and guide your search and take you every step of the way.
For more info, please feel free to click on my contact info or just send me an e-mail.

Jenet Levy
646 442-7426
0 votes
Sonal Goda, Agent, Chantilly, VA
Fri Apr 10, 2009
Hi - in response to New York Novice. It is not a sense of altruism that drives this - it is the law of agency that defines agents as having a fiduciary responsibility to their clients - which means putting the client's interest above their own. But there are also plenty of strong monetary factors that drive this behavior for any agent that takes a long-term view of their business (which will be the good ones that understand how to be successful).

Let me use an example of a three thousand dollar difference in the sales price. This would usually equate to about $50 in the agent's hand after they split the commission with their broker - very little monetary incentive to risk their license and break the law.

But much more importantly - there is a world of difference between a client that was referred to me vs. someone that answered an ad or that I met at an open house. It's a warm lead vs. a cold lead. Not only does the referral already have a good impression of me, but the transaction is usually much more pleasant and less stressful overall. So agents are constantly trying to work so hard for their clients that their clients will feel comfortable telling their friends about the wonderful job their agent did for them. Referrals are the key to a growing business and even a less stressful business - for almost any business - not just real estate.

Who would refer an agent that tried to bump up the price so they could get $50 more in commission? A referral would be thousands more in commission. Earning a referral is a much bigger incentive.

One more example on the listing side - listing agents will often advise the seller to lower the sales price if they don't get much of a response on the house so that they will sell the house quicker. This is another example where a few more dollars in commission from a higher sales price is less important than serving the client's goals of actually selling the house.
0 votes
Doug, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Fri Apr 10, 2009
I guess I'm confused by the comments about the buyer's agent being in "my corner" during the negotiations. I understand a buyer's agent can assist with a number of things that will help me value the apartment, but in the end, if the buyer's agent is also paid commission on the sale, don't they have an incentive to make the selling price higher, just like the selling agent? What incentive does any agent have to ensure I get the best price?

I'm sure there are plenty of decent, conscientous agents out there, it seems like people are suggesting the buying agent puts aside self interest and fights for the buyer out of altruism. Does anyone really believe that?
0 votes
Sonal Goda, Agent, Chantilly, VA
Sat Mar 14, 2009
Hi Anonymous - you would want to get an experienced and knowledgeable service-oriented buyer's agent on your side. Don't be afraid to shop around for someone that you are comfortable with and that is professional.

Agents are required by law to represent their client's best interests above their own. If the agent at the open house is the listing agent, they are required to represent the best interest of the seller and get the highest price for the seller. Your buyer's agent, on the other hand, would be trying to get you the best (lowest) price possible.

Price is probably the biggest part of the conflict that several other folks have alluded to in the answers. There are many other aspects of an offer that can favor either the buyer or the seller - various contingencies, etc. Having your own (good) buyer's agent is important for all of these reasons.

And the best part is that most of the time the seller is paying the agent commissions - so this is a no brainer. You can get a buyer's agent to work for you and you don't even have to pay him/her 99% of the time! This is at least true for Northern VA!
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Fri Mar 13, 2009

When attending open houses, it is advisable to inform the agent that you are currently working with an agent. Additionally, we concur with the majority of other Pros, that the best situation to be in is to have an agent that is working with you individually. This will help you avoid the obvious "conflict of interests" that may materialize.

Good luck
The Eckler Team
0 votes
Jeff K, Home Buyer, Bristol, PA
Fri Mar 13, 2009
I'd offer a different approach to consider. It's interesting that all the people saying, "get your own agent" seem to be agents :-)

You know what would actually happen if you approached a sellers agent directly to work as a dual agent (assuming they are not prohibited from doing so - and are literally a dedicated sellers agent)?

They would LOVE to work with you! Why? They get double the commission. Of course no one in NYC is motivated by economic considerations, and all realtors are bound by a strict code of ethics ... :-) In most states, they can act as "dual agents" - unless they have somehow signed up as exclusive sellers agents for that property.

In NY - you need to use an attorney anyway (well you can pass on that but that's rare and not likely). So the agent doesn't do the contract - merely the "offer". Ok ... so let's see ... so you need to figure out what recent SOLD prices were for comparable properties. A lot of that is right here on-line. Or you can swing by some realtor office and do some quick searches on Trend - it's public data.

NY is like NJ - you'll have a 3-day attorney review anyway - so there's very little that a buyers agent will do to "protect you from yourself". Not in NY anyway.

Once you know a really good comparable for that home, and if the sellers agent will act (and they have to sign this - there's a special little document) as dual agent. You can now play both sides against the middle. Just stick to your guns with an offer that's a bit low but not overly so - and one that you will be happy with.

Resist raising beyond whatever your set limit is (a nice discount on that house). Say whatever makes sense at the time (oh gosh XYZ is outdated - I'll need to do ABC, etc). The agent will WANT you to get it. It's a LOT more money for her if you do.

Play the game - the agent will start really working for you when you are in the offer / counter stage and say, "Hey I found this other place down the street and their asking price is $10K less - I'm going to check it out this afternoon with that agent". Somehow this will translate into her saying to the seller "we're going to lose this buyer - it looks like the market is shifting again this week too - did you see this listing 2 blocks down? You may wish to consider if you'll accept 10K less".

Oh ... and then after the inspection ... you really put the stones to them and force them to fix XYZ or give you money in lieu of doing so ... and this is now after attorney review. They won't walk away from the deal and you'll squeeze them for another few grand. The agents are out of this loop entirely. In fact after attorney review - you'll likely be keeping your agent in the loop instead of the other way around.

Gosh ... am I really saying that the Agent will deliberately undercut their sellers interests for their own commission? Well - some will. Some of these will actually be aware that they are doing it :-)

Some of this is a bit tongue in cheek. I grew up in NY. :-)
0 votes
Alan May, Agent, Evanston, IL
Thu Mar 12, 2009
I always think you're better off with an agent who represents only you, rather than an agent (no matter how well meaning, and no matter how fair) who's loyalties are pulled in opposite directions.
0 votes
Alen Moshkov…, Agent, Brooklyn, NY
Thu Mar 12, 2009
Get a broker to represent you. I know that in some States a buyer pays to have a buyers broker represent them, that isn't the case in New York. Buyers commission is already included in the price, and if you go there on your own the seller can't exactly suddenly go from 6% to 3%. That's a law suit waiting to happen between broker and seller.
Get a broker, he'll do the research, he'll show you comps, he'll advice you on an offer to submit, he'll qualify you, find you an attorney if you don't already have one, can tell you about the building and everything else. Pass that headache to someone who gets paid for it, and leave it off of your plate, it will be a smoother ride for you.

Good Luck.

Btw, where are you buying?
0 votes
Jamal Hadi, Agent, Scarsdale, NY
Wed Mar 11, 2009
No!! You should get a buyers agent to represent you. If you get the listing agent they will represent the seller only.
0 votes
Shai Megiddo, Agent, Astoria, NY
Wed Mar 11, 2009
Strongly advise on using your own agent.
In case of conflict or tough negotiation he/she will be on your side and not the seller's.
0 votes
Tammy Benkwi…, Agent, Somers, NY
Wed Mar 11, 2009
Sorry, Eager Buyer, but that isn't always the case. The commission is driven by whatever is written in the agreement between the seller and the listing office. If the commission states that the seller will pay the listing office X%, that is what the seller will need to pay. Because in your example, there is not an agent representing the best interests of the buyer it means that the listing office can keep the entire X% and does not have to share it. This is called dual agency, and although it is allowed with consent of all parties, it can sometimes be problematic.

Find out if the agent you met at the open house is also the listing agent. Sometimes other agents will fill-in for a listing agent. Ask the agent if they can represent you as a buyers agent, and see what they say. It is always better to have someone represent you given that it is one of the most expensive purchases you are likely to make in your life.

Best of luck!
0 votes
Fajardo Dela…, , Flushing, NY
Wed Mar 11, 2009
With regard to negotiations with the seller or the seller's agent you will need someone in your conner.
That is were the buyer's agent focused on getting you a lower price and better termsthan what is being offered?
Your agent will see that all runs well once you enter into a contractual agreement and slove any issues that might arise during the entire course of the transaction. Since the home a predetermined commission that is built into it the sales agreement. why shouldn't you have your own agent representation.Paid by the seller.

If you have additional questions you can direct them to me.. My Direct # 347-813-1290.
Here is my website http://fajardodelacruz.realtors.officelive.com

Hope to hear from you soon.
0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Wed Mar 11, 2009
RULE of thumb:

Never purchase a home direct from following have your own agent
Bank, builder, For Sale by owner , listing agent, seller,

Lynn911 ~ National Featured Realtor
Web Reference:  http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes
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