Home Buying in Chicago>Question Details

Stephnjerry, Home Buyer in Chicago, IL

Is there any benefit to going working with a real estate agent as opposed to contacting a broker associated with a property directly?

Asked by Stephnjerry, Chicago, IL Sat Feb 1, 2014

We found a property on trulia with the broker information listed on the posting. Is there any benefit to getting a real estate agent involved? If so, how much more can we expect to pay doing this rather than going directly to the broker?

Help the community by answering this question:


The agent listing the property represents the seller, and if they represent you also it's called dual agency. It's difficult to serve two masters, ask yourself...if the sellers agent represents the seller and cannot negotiate to your advantage or divulge any seller info how is that in your best interest? A sellers agent primary goal is to get the most money in the least amount of time.

You need a buyers agent to gather research, provide you with a fair market analysis so that you don't over pay or under bid, negotiate on your behalf and in your best interest and provide you with the tools to make a solid financial decision on what may be one of the biggest decisions you make in your lifetime.

Normally a buyers agent representation is at no cost to you as a buyer.

Hope that helps!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Thank you for asking. As a listing broker I love it when buyer's come directly to me. It's my job to get the house sold under the best possible terms for my seller. When I don't have another agent involved, my job is easier. That doesn't mean we lie, cheat or steal, it means we do a professional job, answer direct questions honestly, and keep everything in the best light for our contracted client.
As a buyer, you deserve your own representation. The seller has already promised to pay an agent to bring them a buyer, you won't save any money by not getting your own agent. In fact, as a buyer's agent my job is to represent my buyers and get the best possible terms for them. To inform and advise them of potential issues they need to be aware of and to negotiate hard on their behalf.
You will not pay more to have your own agent. Select an outstanding agent and there's a good chance you'll actually pay less.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
Hi Steph & Jerry! The broker you see on Trulia was hired by the seller and is working FOR the seller, to get the seller the highest possible price. The seller pays this broker to sell the home, let's just say its 5% of purchase price. If you do not use a buy-side agent, the seller's agent keeps the full 5% - otherwise the commission is split between the agents, 2.5% each. You aren't going to "pay" anything more, per say, but remember this agent is working for the seller (not for you guys), so you might pay more in relation to purchase price! Find an agent you trust to present a data-driven offer and guide you through the negotiation and purchase process. There's a lot to consider after you go under contract, too: Inspection, loan application, appraisal, etc. It's good to have an advocate on your side looking out for you and explaining things to you! Check out the reviews on my website (link below) and let me know if I can help!
Web Reference: http://bit.ly/XTJ3qp
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 4, 2014
Dear Home Buyer,

I work for a RE/MAX office. It is really in your best interest to have your own broker. Our company frowns on duel agency because the job of the listing agent is to represent the seller. Remember using a real estate broker is at not cost to you and can save you headaches.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 3, 2014
If you haven't been overwhelmed by the responses so far, I'll add mine. The agent/broker who lists the property has a signed contract to represent the interests of the seller. Why would you want to use that broker, who doesn't represent YOUR interests? As others have said, the commission is paid by the seller to the brokers, so it's not money coming out of your pocket. The seller's broker is most likely going to try to keep both sides of the commission, if given the opportunity. In terms of expertise and negotiation skills, you're more likely to save money by having your own broker to represent your best interests. Unless you're an experienced buyer of real estate and know all of the aspects critical to the transaction, from market analysis to negotiating inspection issues, it's best to have an agent on your side. And that's not the one listing the property.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 3, 2014
S&J in Lincolnwood,
Your question, if when read to the end, presents the question, '"how much can we expect to pay?"
My peers got stuck on a differing line of thought. ------ The answer to your quest is..."The seller has ALREADY agreed to the fees they will pay. Whether you choose to have someone representing your or not will not influence what the "Listing agreement' already states. ----------- I know, we all like to save money. I do too! That's what gives my STAPLES REWARD card so much value....I save MONEY!.--------------You may be presented with the illusion of saving money via the "Kickback or Rebate" offer. All of these fail to make clear to you what you will be forfeiting.-------------- Any agent can construct the illusion that you are saving money in the situation you describe. However, you can not see, nor can you know, nor have you the experience to know what is happening behind the curtain. That is why it is so wise to hire someone (who is paid by the seller) to protect your best interests and who has your back. You will not save a dime and you will not pay more than you expect. (inspection, appraisal, finance fees, etc) ---------------- How will you know if you are being pillaged and plundered? Those who do this dozens of times every year, know what the rates and fees 'could' be. Everyone likes saving money. However, if you save too much, it starts costing you money. In this case, the fee has been PREPAID to protect you. (of course this depends on the property you select)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Flag Sun Feb 2, 2014
This was from a Chicago newspaper, "If they get dual agency, then by law they will have to step out of the negotiation process (no longer help their clients obtain information to improve their bargaining position, no longer assist their clients by advising on or countering prices or terms). Dual agency representation boils down to simple order taking and facilitation. And after a home inspection it becomes simple, “here’s what they said, let me know what you want to do”. And the Dual Agent gets to earn double commissions despite their demotion!" http://winnetka.patch.com/groups/rich-brandels-blog/p/bp--exclusive-view-dual-agency-and-duties-to-clients

You cannot provide a price or offer amount. Just provide the date for them to come to their own conclusions.
Flag Sun Feb 2, 2014
They are pretty much the same thing. You can provide them with the data, but how you interpret it could get you in trouble. Did an agent leave out the low closing foreclosure or short-sale because they felt it was not relevant, but left I the high selling over built unit. From my stand point we can tell the list price and provide raw data. I would not want to over process it for it appearing to lean one way of the other. I personally would not include foreclosures and short sales when dealing with the seller as it does not fairly represent their unit, which may not be either, but I would want to include those if I were representing the buyer and argue there are relevant for the building. I would not suggest anything but the list price as a dual agent. I will relay offers and counter offers and provide as much detail to help the buyer come to their own price.
Flag Sun Feb 2, 2014
Don't you mean you cannot suggest an offer amount, not a price? An agent would always do diligence with comps and advise on fair value in line with what might be faced in the appraisel step. The buyer would make the choice on what to offer.
Flag Sun Feb 2, 2014
As Annette described it, is how it is in IL. Additionally, we are require by law to give less service to both as a duel agent. We cannot suggest prices, we have our hands partially tied.
Flag Sun Feb 2, 2014
You make the case for working with the listing agent may mean not paying more but less. Read the consumer information statement, or Opinion 26 (in NJ) or its equivalent in Ill. It defines dual agency. If you can live with that, choose to proceed.
Flag Sun Feb 2, 2014
Dual agency should be outlawed in Illinois. No one will be looking out for your best interests. Find a buyers agent to work with.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
A lot of brokers, like us, will share our commission with our buyers while still providing you full service. So you'll have the benefit of having someone work for you and at the same time pocket some money at closing. On a $300,000 home we would typically rebate $1500. If you would like to discuss further you can call me at 312-738-0232
Web Reference: http://lucidrealty.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
Congrats on finding a house you want to purchase. As all the other agents stated you will want to work with a buyers agent. From what it sounds like you are first time home buyers? The company I work for specializes in first time home buyers. There are many steps that go into getting you the keys of your dream home. This is why you want someone that knows the process with you every step of the way. If you would like I can set up an appointment to tour this home or a search for what you are specifically looking for.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 12, 2014
You want an agent that has your interest in mind, not the interest of the seller. You definitely want your own agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 11, 2014
The Listing Agent represents the SELLER, not you. You need someone to represent YOUR interests. The expertise that a Realtor will provide can possibly save you thousands of $$$'s.

Feel free to contact me should you need any assistance.
Web Reference: http://www.BJDHOMES.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 11, 2014
As listing agents, we love it when we can double end the deal by representing both seller and buyer. However, take a few seats back and be an impartial observer. A listing agent first met the seller, and represents his interests, with the aim of getting the highest price for the property. The buyer's agent on the other hand will attempt to win, and get the lowest price for the same property. Different objectives, right? It is a delicate dance to bring both parties to come to an agreement without either party thinking the agent represents the other.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 4, 2014
Congratulations on finding a property on Trulia! As other respondents have said, I would suggest hiring your own agent, particularly one who has expertise in the area where your property is located, which the selling agent may or may not have (this may especially true if the property is REO/bank-owned, and the agent was assigned to the listing). Also, work with an attorney who can shepherd you through the contract process. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 3, 2014
Hi there. Congratulations on finding a property on Trulia. You absolutely want a real estate agent/broker on your side, because that individual is negotiating on your behalf. If you contact the broker who listed the property, he will be working as a dual agent - representing both the seller, and you the buyer. As a dual agent, it is difficult - not impossible - to have the best interest in either party at heart. In Illinois, most compensation is a split commission, paid by the seller. I hope this answers your question. Good luck and let me know how I can help!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 3, 2014
Typically best to hire your own agent to work on your behalf. When you work directly with the listing agent, they typically will be representing the interests of the seller first. If you want an accurate unbiased opinion of value on the property you are looking at, you should hire a buyer's agent to represent you. Typically won't cost you any more money since the seller usually pays both agents anyways.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 3, 2014
It depends on the situation. Sometimes yes and sometimes no.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Why did you bother responding?
Flag Sun Feb 2, 2014
there is a misconception that working with the listing agent saves you money..it might be a small discount but generally the commission is close to if not the same in 75% -90% of the cases. That being said how can an agent represent both of you? its impossible is the correct answer. The seller pays the commission, how do you imagine your getting to control that? I do think it is ok to use the listing agent but the last reason is to save money.. a few % is not the focus of any investment
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
The agent for the seller represents the seller although they have to be 'fair' with you. If you are familiar with the buying process and believe you have access to the correct comparables you might not need an agent, but try to reduce the price by half o the commission since the seller will not need to pay it. My web site talks about my Buyer Rebate if that might be another option.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
email me at jmichaels@remax.net and I can assist with the offer
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Depends on factors of the sale , you can save money
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
There might be an advantage if you arrange with the seller agent to pay some normal buyer's costs (essentially giving you a portion of the extra commission they will receive. For example, will they credit you $300 for a home inspection if the sale goes through?). A similar situation is where a new development is marketing a property. They might cut you a better deal if they don't have to pay an agent that brought you in.

Even when you have your own broker it's still not really in their interest to get you the best price. They are compensated based on a percentage of the purchase price. So like for the seller agent, the buyer agent And like the seller's agent, your agent is anxious to get the deal done and move on to the next one. A $10K difference to you might be a big deal but it's a small differential in the commission payment to the broker.

Ultimately it's your responsibility to understand the sales comparables when buying (and listing) a property. An agent working for you can be helpful in the mechanics of the home purchase and especially valuable if you've never purchased property before.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Benefit, yes. You have an agent looking out for your best interests. That's the "agency relationship" you get when working with a good realtor. Pay attention, I said GOOD REALTOR, not some slouch. Do your homework and contact a few, have a conversation in person or skype. Contact references. It's a free service.
The listing agent works for their client, the seller, NOT YOU OR YOUR BEST INTEREST.
The listing agent can perform ministerial acts on your behalf. Ask for the sheet that lists what they can and can't do for you. Once you have all the facts, The decision should be easy for you to make from there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
I disagree but am in NJ, not Ill. A disclosed dual agent, representing both parties, with full knowledge by everyone, can work and has for decades without incident or problem. From these posts maybe in Ill it is more problematic; the bias so feared might be viewed as a human weakness that, when recognized is best avoided by those so biased. "Can you fairly represent me or is the temptation to bias for the seller so overwhelming that you cannot promise me the fairness I deserve?" You can always choose.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Let me see....You must know that the listing agent all ready has a relationship and commitment with the seller. With this said, why would anyone think this same agent could represent them without the potential for a "conflict of interest?" Buyers should ALWAYS have their own personal representation.....this does not include working with the listing agent.

Now why would a listing agent tell you there is a benefit to the buyer to engage in a dual agency situation. It's simple....they get to collect the commission from both sides of the transaction. DOUBLE MONEY! Make no mistake. There is a real benefit for not going with the listing agent......Bill
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
I am sure it's been said as I see a lot of comments and have not read through them yet but a good broker will read everything :) I often represent buyers that come to my listing directly and through open communication a fair deal can be worked out. If you are working with people that think it is a win-win situation for all, it will work out. Sometimes people feel like for somebody to win, another has to lose; you may hear this on statements such as giving away the sellers price or position or generally making you feel like you and your new (dual) agent will conspire against the seller to win. If this is the case, run. Also, I guess you would have to be pretty sure that 'this is the one' otherwise it may be better to shop with 1 agent through various properties, trying to 'dual' every showing agent is probably not to your benefit as you are basically learning how to be a Realtor and you are the first client.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
I'm biased here. Use a real estate agent: buyers agent. Simply email them the listing number and they set them up. You should consider a free consultation for a needs and wants analysis. It will give you an opportunity to ask how much lower can they get a property from asking price. Average is 95%. The lower the percentage the better result oriented buyers agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Many buyers feel they can get a better deal by contacting the listing broker but really there is no advantage. Illinois still considers working with both buyer and seller a "dual agency" and while this is permitted their are specific codes of conduct that apply that require both parties in the transaction to be treated fairly. I think it is better to find an agent who is knowledgable about the area you are interested in and have that agent show you all those properties for sale regardless who has the listing
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Yes, when buyers and sellers allow one agent to handle both sides of the transaction they have essentially allowed themselves to be thrown under a bus so that the agent may retain the entire commission. There's one person who has tremendous representation when there's dual agency and it's the agent.

Regardless of whatever you may get told by agents swearing up and down that "Dual Agency" is the way to go, stop and ask yourself how one agent can possibly do what is in the best of interest of two parties who have diametrically opposed positions. Dual Agency clearly presents a conflict of interest and I have long argued that it should be prohibited. Every State Real Estate Commission was set up for the purpose of protecting the consumer, yet every State Real Estate Commission has caved in to the lobbying efforts of the big national real estate firms who wanted an end run around true buyer side brokering when it frist came into being in the early and mid 1990's. Do yourself a huge favor and find yourself an experienced buyer broker. For more on the subject of Agency read the link I've attached below.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
The listing agent of a property represents the seller and their best interest, always. Anything you tell them can and will be used against you in a negotiation. There is no possible way to represent a buyer and seller and fully have both people's interest in mind.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Listing agent's client is the seller, a broker working with the buyer represents the buyer. A listing agent can represent both sides of the transaction , called "Dual Agency". They must act fairly to both sides and not reveal any confidential info from one side to another. It can work out fine if you have a good agent doing this who understands the rules. Think of it as using lawyers vs mediator in a divorce situation.
Best of luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 2, 2014
Guess who the listing agent owes his or her loyalty to? You guessed it, the seller. Having someone negotiate the best possible deal for you is the difference between you saving 100 or 300 dollars a month. It is crucial that you get proper guidance in this transaction. Sure, the agent will try their best to make sure you are being properly serviced, but can they distinguish who they should help first? Will your interest come before theirs? It's a tough call, best you hire a separate agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
An agent that you choose to represent you will do just that, represent your interests in any transaction plus guide you through the process. The agent for the seller represents the seller and is working for their interests. It doesn't cost you to be represented in most instances and the value that a qualified agent can offer you is experience and expertise.
Web Reference: http://www.susannice.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
By law the listing agent represents the property owner not you. At best they become your dual agent and cannot service both you and the owner fully. They cannot suggest prices or strategy. They are neutralized as an advocate for either side.

There is one commission. When there is one agent they get 100% of the commission. When their are 2 agents, the split it, usually 50/50. You save neither you nor the owner anything by not brining an agent. You just make it easier for them to get their way and their agent gets to keep more of the money.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
Why not have someone on your side? Its free to use an agents services, and this way you have some guidance. There is so much that goes into the home buying process outside of saying "hey we want this one." Whats next? Where do we go from here? How does this work? etc, etc, etc, etc.
Web Reference: http://Americorpre.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
There is no larger transaction in your life than buying a home. Unless you buy another home down the line. Using the services of a buyer's broker (a real one, not a listing agent trying to make double the $$$), is the deal of the century as it cost NOTHING to secure those services as a buyer. All fees are paid by the seller or the seller's broker. These transactions are stressful and need the attention that only an experienced real estate broker can bring. You will need expectations set and the whole process explained to you so that you understand what your options are at all times. I always shake my head when a listing agent says it's "better" or "easier" for them when there is no buyer's broker. Please explain how one person can represent BOTH sides of a transaction equally? A good buyer's broker brings a positive addition to the experience of buying a home.

If anyone offers a rebate, always ask yourself. Why do they feel they need to offer a rebate in order to compete with other brokers? There is usually a reason they offer the rebate, and you don't want to figure that out the hard way.

Feel free to contact me after talking to some other buyer brokers in the area. There is a differance between the "corporate" brokers and the boutique-style brokers. Most of my clients enjoy the journey and become friends that talk years after the transaction closes.

Keep warm!

Mark Malave
Web Reference: http://Www.markmalave.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
I work as a buyers broker and like many I do not charge anything. A buyers broker will help you with the paperwork, negotiations and help make sure that everything goes well. They also make a nice backstop to help bounce ideas off of and to make sure you are not making any major mistake. There is really no reason not to find a buyers broker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 1, 2014
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