Should you use the sellers real estate agent as your(the)buyers agent? Would this be a conflict of interest?

Asked by Ed, Pennsylvania Fri Oct 5, 2007

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J Lo, Home Buyer, California Glory, Brentwood, CA
Fri Oct 5, 2007
Hi Ed:
As you can see by the multitude of answers listed below that there are varying but similar views. It's definitely allowable in some states, while it isn't in others.

Personally - I want my own lawyer, doctor, and yes real estate agent. I want to know that the person representing me doesn't have to tackle any "side" issues. An agent should be dedicated to you and you alone.

While there are some extremely competent, ethical, moral, and dedicated agents out there - that is really not the issue. The issue is the "split".

Do yourself and the other agent a favor - get someone who will have only your interests to deal with. It's clean and you don't have to second guess any decisions or wonder about loyalties severed.
1 vote
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Fri Oct 5, 2007
Hi Ed:

When an agent represents both the sellers and the buyers, it is called a 'Dual Agency'. Actually, since a real estate contract, whether listing or purchasing is really signed with a Brokerage; if you sell and buy with agents from the same brokerage firm, "Dual Agency' also applies in that case.

In a lot of cases, we try to refrain from representing both sides. The prevailing question is where the loyalty of the agent will lie? When negotiating for contracts, repairs and other terms, as an agent who probably knows the bottom of both sides, will the agent try to negotiate the best terms fro the sellers or for the buyers? This one of the major reason why it is recommended not to use the same agent for both sides.

However, if the situation is fully disclosed and both sides know the implication of dual agency; also, both sides know and trust the agent; and if the term works for both sides (seller is happy if he can get xxx and the buyer is thrilled he can get xxx), then it’s a win-win for both. This is especially true after the property has been on the market for a while and a buyer comes in make an acceptable offer thru the same agent, this will work well for both because the seller wants to sell and the agent knows the buyer’s situation, hopefully to hold the deal together.

When it was the hot seller’s market, my company have a policy that if an agent is representing both, all the offers will be sealed and sent to the manager, instead of the listing agent, and the manager will present the offer to the sellers so all offers will be on level playing ground.

Bottom line is, if you have experience, capable, knowledgeable and trustworthy realtor, you should not worry.

1 vote
Chris Willia…, , 38401
Thu Oct 11, 2007
I don't think you will find many seller's agents willing to be the buyers agent at the same time, although some states practice what is known as Dual Agency. Most agents will revert to what is known as a Facilitator or Transaction Broker in the event they find a buyer that wants to buy one of their listings. This is OK, if the seller and the buyer are informed and ok with that. But let's define what that actually means, If you are the sellers designated agent you are agreeing to put their interest before all others in the transaction. Same is true if you are a designated buyers agent. If you are a facilitator you are more of a transaction broker, not an "advocate" for either side. So, if you are wanting an advocate you should want a buyers agent. Just make sure you are working with someone that is going to put your interest above all others...including their own.

Chris Williams
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes
Jan Wood, , Gallatin, TN
Sun Oct 7, 2007
Hire your own Buyer's Agent...the commission will be paid by the seller or seller's agent. In no case should an agent be considered a dual agent. You either represent the Seller or Buyer. In the case of acting as a Facilitator in a real estate transaction, you may give data only but not advice to either party. Your Buyer's Agent will work just for you.
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Dena Parker…, , Tennessee
Fri Oct 5, 2007
Hello Ed. According to TN state law it is permissible as long as both parties provide written consent. However, by definition it is a conflict of interest. When both the seller and the buyer are a "client", we have a fiduciary responsibility to both clients. One of those responsibilities includes disclosure. If properly followed, any information we knew about the other side would need to be disclosed to the other. When it comes to negotiating, how in the world do you negotiate if you've been true to the responsibility you owe. So if I know the bottom line price the seller will take, then I am to disclose that to the buyer. Or if I know exactly how much the buyer is willing to pay, I must disclose that to the seller in dual agency. Now, there are two other alternatives to being completely represented in a dual agency. One is to use the seller's agent for the contract, etc where you would not be represented as a client. Essentially, you would be responsible for your own negotiation and all of the responsibilities once the offer is made that follow. Another option is to have the seller's agent default to a facilitator where that agent would not represent either party but would act as a facilitator between both parties. In my opinion, the best option is to have a buyer's agent where your agent's sole responsibility and loyalty lies with you and your needs. It is a risk to go any other way. It could work out great without representation, but it could also be a nightmare. Remember that the seller pays the buyer's agent fees, so you really have nothing to lose by being represented and lots more to gain!
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Ute Ferdig, Agent, Newcastle, CA
Fri Oct 5, 2007
Hi Ed. I would say there's definitely the potential for a conflict of interest. There's a good reason why the majority of the states does not permit dual agency representation. There are pros and cons to dual agency relationships and the problem is that you have no way of knowing for sure beforehand what kind of issues might arise in a transaction that can put an agent in a split loyalty situation. If you don't feel comfortable with being represented by the seller's agent, I would recommend that you get your own agent as you'll probably always have that doubt in the back of your mind. Nobody can force you into a dual agency relationship against your will. Good luck.
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Ken Christian, , Raleigh, NC
Fri Oct 5, 2007
It is not a conflict of interest. You can do this, its a dual agency situation where the seller would have to agree to the arrangement. I this case, the agent would have to act as a go between and would become a neutral party, advising neither party. In this case, because the agent has knowledge of both the seller and you the buyer, they would only facillitate the sale by being the go between. If you want true representation, you should employ an agent as a buyers agent, and not use the seller's agent.
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