Should I use the listing agent to buy a house?

Asked by Dewdew, Madison, WI Sat Oct 3, 2009

My husband and I decided to buy a house, I sent an email to a realtor asking her to be my agent but did not receive her reply for two days and later learned she was on vacation.
During these two days, I found a house on the web and contacted the listing agent and she showed us the house for about 35mins. Later we got together with my agent and wanted her to represent us to buy the house.
But when we told the listing agent, she said since she showed us the house and we needed to use her or other agents from her brokerage company, otherwise, even my agent write the offer for us, my agent won't get paid unless I choose to pay my agent from my own pocket. The listing agent tried to convince me explaining that she has done dual agent deal many times and assure me on the phone that she would serve me well.
Please let me how to proceed with this house purchase.

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Debbie Berte…, Agent, Waite Park, MN
Thu Oct 22, 2009
I am a licensed Wisconsin Realtor. It would appear the listing agent has procuring cause because
she took you through the home, answered your questions, etc. If the agent who was on vacation would write the offer she may not get paid. When I go on vacation I always tell my clients and leave them a phone
number of the person who can assist them when I'm gone.

Even if you had signed a Buyers Agency Agreement with the agent on vacation before going through the home and the list agent took you through the listing agent could have procuring cause.

If you prefer to be represented as a Buyers Agent (which I highly recommend), talk to the listing agent and she will have someone in her office help you.

I feel bad for the agent who was on vacation, but we have a code of conduct we must follow.
2 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Nov 30, 2009
I would go a step further. As a listing agent, I am absolutely happy to show your clients the house and have you get paid for educating them to the point where they can recognize the value and utility in my listing.

Please, forty-five whole minutes for me to sell your client ON the house, so I can get it sold (which is my job), I can get paid (for having done my job), and the buyer's agent should be hung out to dry?

Unh uh. Not this agent. You know what? I'd even write the deal up for the buyer's agent. Really. You guys talk, tell me what you want, I'll write it up. Another entire hour out of my life. Where will I find the time?

This idea that an agent only has value at the time you want to cut them out of the deal is ridiculous. And, you know what - I don't want any freaking referral fee, either. They're your buyer, not mine. It's my seller; you wouldn't expect a referral fee from me if they kept you there for an hour showing you around the place so you could put a deal together.

Buyers are going to want to see houses. Let's not make it any more difficult than it needs to be.
1 vote
Kim Noonan, Agent, New Lenox, IL
Thu Oct 22, 2009
When this issue comes up - and it does over and over again - it's wisest for the agents involved to attempt to put together a referral that compensates the listing agent for her true time and effort spent with you, and allows you to move forward with the representation you're most comfortable with. IMO, at no time should a commission dispute prevent a deal from getting put together. If both agents take a hard-headed approach, the clients lose. You fail to get the home you really want. And the seller misses an opportunity to sell their home.

Dewdew, reading through the original question/scenario posted, I'm just curious what made you select the first agent to ask her to represent you? You said you emailed her asking her to be your agent; so I may be jumping to an assumption, but it sounds as though you didn't have a relationship with her prior to that.

I'm just wondering if the buyer's agent you selected was found through an internet site or referral company that offers buyer rebates?

If part of your decision about moving forward on the house includes counting on a rebate or discount from the buyer's brokerage - you might want to include in your decision that there could be a compensation dispute that would prevent your agent's firm from getting paid at closing, and they might have to negotiate or settle the dispute later. And so...if your agent's company fails to get paid....
1 vote
James I Dahle, Home Owner, Elmhurst, IL
Thu Oct 22, 2009
Hi Dewdew (love that)

I've not read the other replies - they probalby already solved your question.

If you are homeless and it's raining, run to the nearest Realtor. Otherwise, await the
vacationer, if you respect her.

Agents try to get the best price for their customer. See the problem?
How can we try to get the best price for the seller AND try to get the best price for the buyer?
Yes, if you both sign a piece of paper saying you know the agent is representing you AND
the other guy, by law in Illinois, we can help you both. But can we really do our best job?

We aren't in this business for a quick sale. We want to be loved for our work for you. Like your dad.
If you go to a used car dealer and take your dad, the salesperson will try to get the best price
for his employer, and your dad will try to get the best price for you. Next time you go, your dad can't go,
so you ask the salesperson to give you his/her best price.
Okay, he/she will, but wouldn't your dad try harder?

I don't know any of us Real Estate agents who are dishonest. We are
indepentent contractors, usually, and that means we own our own little "store."
We need your referral, and we work for that, not the commission.
We will work our hearts out for you,
but that's what a Real Estate Pro's heart is for.

Find an agent in Madison who will work only for you, trying to get the best deal for you,
at the expense of the seller and the seller's agent.

By the way, we're so busy here in Elmhurst, Illinois, that only the boss can take a vacation.

Good luck,
Jim Dahle
1 vote
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sun Oct 4, 2009

You will likely encounter a wide variety of responses but our recommendation is simple. You will likely find the best representation by using the services of someone that is only invested in you as a customer.

Dual agency scenarios do work...they happen all of the time...and mistakes can happen with any type of real estate arrangement but sharing an individual that has your best interest in mind, in our opinion, is at best questionable.

The Eckler Team
1 vote
Kate Speer-E…, Agent, Madison, WI
Thu Nov 12, 2009
The listing agent is correct -- she has done the work to market the house, and, in addition, spend time with you and show you the house. She has what is called "procuring cause" unless you have a buyer agency agreement with your realtor who was on vacation,.
Kate Speer Ely
0 votes
Daniel Drier, Home Seller, Walworth, WI
Sat Oct 24, 2009
Isn't there a common courtesy amongst agents that if you show someone a house, all other agents need to back off and realize they missed an opportunity. Granted, the market is questionable, but let's not forget the etiquette that goes with being a good agent. I am not an agent but have a great deal of respect for them and as a home seller right now, I am trying to sell myself but have put out an encentive package for any agent who shows it or sells it along with a cash bonus.
Another point, the listing agent is going to know more about the house than anyone. i would do what you have to to get the house you want.
0 votes
Bill E, Home Owner, Madison, WI
Thu Oct 22, 2009
Gosh Joe...based on the other posts you have put up, I guess you may need a Buyers Agent more than you realize.
Your other post can be read below:

Joe Pater says: "I want to scare the seller into pulling out of their current deal and go with us. we were the first ones to the table but unfortunately got outbid at the last minute. we screwed up but we still want the home, can this strategy work? we're going to bid 10k more than the asking price.."

That would indicate that you tried to lowball the Seller, lost out on the house you are now willing to pay $10,000 over asking. Then you want back in...ALL questions a Buyer Agent could/would/should answer.

But, if, IF you know what you are doing....
0 votes
Joe Pater, , Madison, WI
Thu Oct 22, 2009
well if you're a savvy individual and don't need that information (it's all publicly available anyway) then why bother with a buyers agent?

there just there to murk up the waters, if you're up for it negotiating directly with the seller through one party (the listing agent) can be a quick and efficient way to get the best deal.

you don't need advice from a buyers agent if you know what you're doing.
0 votes
Joe Pater, , Madison, WI
Thu Oct 22, 2009
DewDrew here's the real answer.

yes, you can use a listing agent, in fact you may even be able to pull of a BETTER deal in the end b/c the listing agent won't be a force for pushing the price hire to bring in a higher commission. (because they're getting both sides of the commission already.
0 votes
Bill E, Home Owner, Madison, WI
Thu Oct 22, 2009
The Listing Agent is contractually and ethically bound to promote and protect the interests of the Seller.

There is additional incentive for the Listing Agent to get the house sold without another agent involved and that is twice the commission. Listing Side + Buyer Side

As a Buyer, do you want the person "representing" you to put the Seller's interests first and a double commission dangling when you start asking the hard "How low can we buy this for?"

"Procuring Cause" is hammered out between the Brokers informally or in arbitration. If you bring another Realtor into the transaction as your Buyer Agent after first viewing a house with the Listing Agent, they may not get paid. If you signed a Buyers Agency agreement with the Agent you use it states very clearly that you may be liable for the commission they should have earned.

Dual Agency is no way to be represented in the purchase of a home. Would you consent to one lawyer representing both sides of a divorce case and simply pay them twice as much money?
There will inevitably be decisions made that give one party the advantage over another...which party do you think the Listing Agent (getting paid two commissions BY THE SELLER) will favor?

Call the Listing Agent on the sign in front of the house you want to buy at your peril.
0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Hi again Dew
No matter what, the listing agent wants the house sold.That should be her number 1 priority.

Go ahead and make your offer - it seems as though you prefer to work with your first agent, so make the offer through that agent - .just make sure she does show you the house, too.

You won't be penalized by using your own agent......if you feel there is a problem, you can always have your agent contact the Broker of record. In the meantime, have your agent reach out to the other agent and work this out - it's not your concern at this point.
Just make your decision, and let your agent handle it.

Good luck with the home!
0 votes
Dewdew, Home Buyer, Madison, WI
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Hi all,
I am so glad to find this web site and thanks you for all your valuable inputs.
No, I did not sign any contract with either my own agent as we just started to see houses, nor did I sign any with the listing agent on this property as it was not my intention.
During the showing, the listing agent did not ask me whether I was working with any agent, I did not mention my own agent either as I was waiting for her reply and I felt is was not necessary. I assumed it was seller agent's job to show any potential buyers upon appointment.
After my own agent showed us several houses, we compared all the houses we saw and felt this particular listing was a relatively good fit for us and expressed the interest to both my agent and then the listing agent. that was when the sticky situation arose. Now the listing agent said she went on extra effort for marketing the house (instead of just opening the door and standing there) to me and have the Procuring cause by the law. She recommended my agent to talk to her broker and when my agent did, the listing broker said we should contact the listing agent...
After some more communication, she offered me several options including using her service, or those of her partners from her brokerage company, she did offer the option allowing my agent to contact her to negotiate the commission dollar amount in the end.
Now I am wondering how my decision would affect my position should I move forward to the purchase.
0 votes
Charlie Wills, , 53719
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Dear Dewdew,

You can have who ever you would like to help represent you in the transaction. Your agent, the one on vacation during this time, will have to see the home with you not only to get familiar with the home, but to help represent you.
This is a sticky situation that has nothing to do to with whom you choose to represent you in the transaction. I would default in using an objective party and not the listing agent as being a dual agent is not an easy task as they do not technically represent either but have to be fair and honest to both parties.

My advice is to have a buyer's agent to represent you so they will be working and negotiating on your behalf and not representing both parties.

The threat from the listing agent is false about you having to pay an agent separate of the listing commission being offered in the MLS. Procuring cause is a very sticky situation and this is handled by the brokers of each firm. It is wrong that this agent even mentioned this to you as it has nothing to do with you. They are to make sure that both parties are represented and their commission can be dealt with after the closing.

Best of luck!

0 votes
Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Do you have a buyers agreement with listing agent regarding that particular property? If you don't you don't have use her if your preference use an agent you want represent you.

Many agents who are listing agents FAIL ask you caller is represented by an agent . Then best decline showing recommend have their agent show property.

Rule of thumb never purchase a property direct from : bank, builder, for sale by owner, listing agent, have a person who represents you. EXAMPLE: would you go to trial use same an attorney NO.

HOWEVER exceptions to rule I have represented both worked out behalf of all parties.

Up to you and good luck

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0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Hi Dewdew
I wish I had a dollar every time this situation and question appeared on trulia! It seems to be a common occurance that pops up frequently.

First, you are not obligated to work with the listing agent. You may work with her if you so choose. She shoud have explained to you when you first met, that she would be working with you as a dual agent. Did you sign any agreement with her? if not, then it is even easier for you to work with the first agent.

As far as the commission is concerned.............that is an issue that would be worked out between the brokers. it is not a slam dunk that the listing agent woiuld absolutely get the whole commission, or even part of it. It is not a legal issue, but one that is handled through the different companies or through arbitration if necessary - not through the court system.

it is a sticky situation to use and see a property with 1 agent, and then decide to write an offer with another agent. Did you tell the listing agent you wanted to work with another agent ?

Disclosed dual agency is very commonly practiced in NJ. I am not sure how it is handled in that might factor into your decision. In my area, if I showed my listing, and wasn't told that the buyers had another agent (who was away), I'd expect them to pursue that particular home with me...... they would be properly represented. I always ask first if the buyer has another agent. At least that way it is clear, and there are no last minute surprises or awkward situations.

Do what you are comfortable doing.
Many agents here will respond that you should only have a buyer's agent represent you, as this is a hotly debated issue..........the final choice is up to you.

Since, unless I am mistaken, you didn't seem to have any established relationship with the 1st agent, I see no problem with you pursuing this home with the listing agent who took her time to show you the home.

It's your decision to make. Do what you feel most comfortable doing.

Best wishes...
Debbie Rose
Prudential NJ Properties
0 votes
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