Iâ€™ve heard arguments like yours before, but I havenâ€™t seen the argument so poorly presented. As is usually the case for this topic, the myopic view offered focuses only on money. At the end of the day, a buyer without an agent or using the listing agent is not represented to the highest level. Let something go wrong (and things do) and see how well Zillow and Redfin work for you.
Do you seriously think that a listing agent is going to cut their commission in half because the buyer is unrepresented? Personally I typically insist that there be a buyer agent for two main reasons - I never want there to be a situation where dual agency exists as I don't want my loyalties questioned; if the buyer comes unrepresented I tell them to find an agent and second, unrepresented buyers are like working with for sale by owners - they have no clue as to what needs to be done and easy things become cumbersome. Deals fall apart because there is no guidance or the sole agent has to do double duty. If I have a buyer that wants to make a run at a for sale by owner, I'll negotiate a higher commission because I know it will not be a smooth transaction - and most often sellers understand that and agree.
On listing agreements, the seller is paying a set commission; there is no renegotiation if an unrepresented buyer comes along. The idea that this buyer will negotiate a 3% reduction is ridiculous. Same for new homes; the developer pays a set commission whether or not a buyer is repped. As far as negotiating, youâ€™re off point on that as well. Price is one aspect of negotiation, what about warranties, closing costs, personal property, repairs, possession datesâ€¦and more. Agents often have relationships with mortgage reps, inspectors, lawyers, movers, landscapers, repairmenâ€¦.all looking for business and those solid relationships will be worth piece of mind as well as money saved for the buyer. And donâ€™t forget our ability to pick up the phone and get things done with these folks. I know youâ€™re thinking â€œkickback kickback kickbackâ€ but dismiss that â€“ like every other profession we have laws and standards.
As far as your comments about the data available on Zillow and Redfin, youâ€™re kidding right? Youâ€™re seriously planting a flag in that data? Even if that data was the ultimate benchmark for all things real estate, do you have the expertise to properly interpret and apply it? Being a WebMD guru does not a doctor make. Most of the data on real estate sites is worthless as real estate is local â€“ micro markets even. The only way to effectively apply it is to be in it.
So Bill Taylor, other than these minor points you are spot on. Itâ€™s not like buying a home is a significant investment or somewhat complicated; your points drive home the ease of purchasing one and completing all other aspects. Youâ€™re in Seattle â€“ does spending a few hours on Flight Simulator qualify you to sit in the right seat of a Boeing 767?
Hank Miller, SRA, ABR
Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser
REMAX Greater Atlanta