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Looking for a home: Buyer's agent, or go direct to the selling agent?
Old 07-03-2017, 10:25 AM   #1
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Looking for a home: Buyer's agent, or go direct to the selling agent?

I'm in the market for a small home near us (a house for DD, seems like the best answer right now).

In the "old days," when buying a home I normally found a real estate agent to serve as my source for MLS listings, to show us properties in which we were interested, etc. Now, it's pretty darn easy to find these listings directly. So, I'm trying to decide between:
1) Calling the listing agents directly when I see a listing in which we are interested.
2) Do it like I used to, and let "my" agent set up all the showings, submit my offers to seller's agent, etc.

Advantage of "1" is that I think I might get some concessions from the seller (pressure from the agent/presenting our offer in the most favorable light in order to keep the sale "in house") and the agent/agency might even be willing to take some reduction on the commission because there's just more "fat" if they aren't splitting the fees with a buying agent/office. Sure, as a buyer I'm not paying any commissions >directly<, but . . .

Advantage of "2" is convenience for us: "Our" agent sets up all the showings and we can see a lot more homes more quickly.

Any thoughts/things I missed (esp other services I can expect from getting my own buyer's agent, etc)? I'm leaning toward Option 2, now.

FWIW, we're looking for a modest house, distressed property (REO, etc) or one needing some cosmetic work is okay, but not a requirement.

Thanks for any thoughts, suggestions on picking an agent, etc.
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Old 07-03-2017, 10:54 AM   #2
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We buy SFH's for investment properties, and we rely on our real estate agent. The agent helps us determine the fair price, get intel on the seller situation, advocates for us based on our qualifications (when there are multiple offers), and negotiates down further if we find anything material during inspection. He'll advise but we always make the final call.

We've gotten at least one property because he pitched to the seller that we were the most qualified despite being the lowest bidder, and on another property, he successfully negotiated further reductions when I wasn't considering it, which saved us 3k.

The price will be the same whether or not you use a buyer's agent, but the key is the find a good agent (and being patient).
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Old 07-03-2017, 10:59 AM   #3
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I found calling the seller's agent for a showing very easy - a buyer's agent wouldn't have been any easier (I looked at 19 houses this way). Negotiating directly with the seller's agent without a buyer's agent as intermediary was great. A buyer's agent might be useful for first-time homebuyers or buyers who are unfamiliar with the area of interest. Good luck!
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Old 07-03-2017, 12:54 PM   #4
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Seller's agent or Buyer's agent--they're both working for the seller. They're after that 6% sales commission in full or in half.

You've got to be very careful what you say when shopping for a home. Don't think either agent is your friend. Keep your thoughts to yourself.

With the internet and the Multiple Listing Services, it's never been easier for a potential buyer to do his own footwork.

We had a house down the street go into foreclosure, and my wife got interested. It was very stately at almost 7000 square feet with 20 x 40 foot pool and 5 1/2 acres. We could have bought it for $317, but would have had to spend $50K on a new kitchen and even more on removing old style wallpaper and carpets. Then the upkeep and huge electricity bills were more than we wanted to take on.

We ended up buying the only other large foreclosure in our retail market--over 5000 square feet for what a new 2200 square foot home would cost. Being a cash buyer that could move fast on the closing date sealed the deal.

If I was looking for another home today, I'd be looking at foreclosed homes. There are many normal and smaller sized foreclosure homes on the market right now.
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Old 07-03-2017, 02:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I'm in the market for a small home near us (a house for DD, seems like the best answer right now).

In the "old days," when buying a home I normally found a real estate agent to serve as my source for MLS listings, to show us properties in which we were interested, etc. Now, it's pretty darn easy to find these listings directly. So, I'm trying to decide between:
1) Calling the listing agents directly when I see a listing in which we are interested.
2) Do it like I used to, and let "my" agent set up all the showings, submit my offers to seller's agent, etc.

Advantage of "1" is that I think I might get some concessions from the seller (pressure from the agent/presenting our offer in the most favorable light in order to keep the sale "in house") and the agent/agency might even be willing to take some reduction on the commission because there's just more "fat" if they aren't splitting the fees with a buying agent/office. Sure, as a buyer I'm not paying any commissions >directly<, but . . .

Advantage of "2" is convenience for us: "Our" agent sets up all the showings and we can see a lot more homes more quickly.

Any thoughts/things I missed (esp other services I can expect from getting my own buyer's agent, etc)? I'm leaning toward Option 2, now.

FWIW, we're looking for a modest house, distressed property (REO, etc) or one needing some cosmetic work is okay, but not a requirement.

Thanks for any thoughts, suggestions on picking an agent, etc.
Im not sure where you live, But if your close to me Ill sell you mine , Ill throw in the furniture. No commissions. Its mint move in condition. Other than that, If you have time, go through the listing agent, more wiggle room with the commission. As stated they dont have to split with the other office.
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Old 07-03-2017, 02:57 PM   #6
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Seller's agent or Buyer's agent--they're both working for the seller.
That may be the case where you live (state laws vary of course) but in MD when I bought a house with the ex, we used a buyer's agent, who was obligated to represent the best interests of the buyer. This definition of a buyer's agent is short and sweet:

What is buyer agent? definition and meaning - BusinessDictionary.com
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Old 07-03-2017, 03:16 PM   #7
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That may be the case where you live (state laws vary of course) but in MD when I bought a house with the ex, we used a buyer's agent, who was obligated to represent the best interests of the buyer.
+1. I have had a real estate license in the past (just for the fun of it actually), and I couldn't agree more.

Unless you are willing to accept all of the legal and financial penalties of executing a defective purchase that may not be apparent to a lay person, I would strongly urge you to obtain a buyers representative. It will cost you nothing, and they will do ALL of the legwork and due diligence for you. If anything goes legally wrong with the transaction, they will assume responsibility. You're under no obligation.

You're not buying a car or an appliance...the hidden pitfalls in real estate can be real (as in expensive).

Just one POV.

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Old 07-03-2017, 04:04 PM   #8
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Buyers agent all the way.

We sold our home 1 year ago. Our agent was negotiating for us all the way through. The buyers agent was hardly there. She missed all the inspections. She did not negotiate any repairs. Roof was 23 years old. She only asked about it after the offer was accepted. same for the furnace. 23 years old.

We have heard that the buyers have dumped $45k into the home. The closing went sideways. Our guy was on top of the closing company the whole time & got us rebated on their fees

Find an agent that is working for you. We felt we could talk confidentially with him about negotiations at any time. He had a srategy in place and worked it. If everything goes smooth great. You have paid exactly the same.
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Old 07-03-2017, 04:08 PM   #9
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I've been tempted to go without a buyer's agent in the past for some of the same reasons mentioned by OP. Certainly, their role in helping you actually find a house is nearly obsolete. They really just act as an intermediary and help resolve potential problems. On the downside, you may or may not get any concessions due to the arrangement and you certainly will not get any "representation" from the listing agent. Their fiduciary responsibility is to the seller.

So in the end, I've always used a buyer's agent. It's no cost to you (the buyer) and we've always had great advice from the agent throughout the process. They have tons of experience doing multiple transactions every month compared to the average homeowner who does 2 or 3 transactions in a lifetime. Finally, in my experience, there are more effective ways to make your offer stand out, like offering all cash, quick closing, bare minimum contingencies, and no nickel-and-dime stuff like asking the seller to pay certain closing costs or a home warranty.
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Old 07-03-2017, 04:14 PM   #10
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Unless you are willing to accept all of the legal and financial penalties of executing a defective purchase that may not be apparent to a lay person, I would strongly urge you to obtain a buyers representative.
The buyer (not the buyer's agent) signs the purchase offer, and it is the buyer (not the buyer's agent) who accepts all of the legal and financial penalties of executing a defective purchase. So, the buyer should carefully read and thoroughly understand the purchase offer before signing. I agree that a buyer's agent can help a newbie understand the contract.
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Old 07-03-2017, 10:00 PM   #11
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I've been tempted to go without a buyer's agent in the past for some of the same reasons mentioned by OP. Certainly, their role in helping you actually find a house is nearly obsolete. They really just act as an intermediary and help resolve potential problems. On the downside, you may or may not get any concessions due to the arrangement and you certainly will not get any "representation" from the listing agent. Their fiduciary responsibility is to the seller.



So in the end, I've always used a buyer's agent. It's no cost to you (the buyer) and we've always had great advice from the agent throughout the process. They have tons of experience doing multiple transactions every month compared to the average homeowner who does 2 or 3 transactions in a lifetime. Finally, in my experience, there are more effective ways to make your offer stand out, like offering all cash, quick closing, bare minimum contingencies, and no nickel-and-dime stuff like asking the seller to pay certain closing costs or a home warranty.


+1
I'm a fan of using a buyer's agent. The knowledge a real estate professional can offer could more than offset any potential commission savings. It's important to choose an agent who really knows the area. The agent we've used for a few transactions in our area knows "behind the scenes" details on a lot of properties, such as what the seller's situation is, the property's history, etc.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:08 PM   #12
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I'm a fan of using a buyer's agent. The knowledge a real estate professional can offer could more than offset any potential commission savings. It's important to choose an agent who really knows the area.
Ask the agent who their principal is. If they quibble, ask them who LEGALLY their principal is. Who do they legally represent? Hint: It is the person who pays them, which is the seller.

Im my experience, you won't get a break on the RE commission by going directly to the listing agent.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:52 PM   #13
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Always have your own agent.
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Old 07-04-2017, 06:58 PM   #14
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Always have your own agent.
+1 Totally agree.
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Old 07-04-2017, 07:11 PM   #15
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I've negotiated a rebate from the seller's agent when I went directly to them. Of course, it depends on the market and competition, but 4% to them and 2% to you beats 3% to each agent. Also, depending on your state laws, a buyer's agent may be (legally) working for you or the other guy. My experience has been that the agents are only working for themselves.
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:30 PM   #16
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Update: I've contacted an "Exclusive Buyer's Broker" (e.g neither the agent nor the company he works for is ever on the seller's side of the deal). We seem to be getting along okay, and he's responsive. I'm hoping for a bit more enthusiasm from him, but maybe it will come.
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Old 07-07-2017, 03:35 AM   #17
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Ask the agent who their principal is. If they quibble, ask them who LEGALLY their principal is. Who do they legally represent? Hint: It is the person who pays them, which is the seller.

Im my experience, you won't get a break on the RE commission by going directly to the listing agent.
Used to be true........but not now.

I have been a real estate broker over 20 years. In most states, a buyers agent represents the buyer, PERIOD. They are not obligated to the listing agent/home seller except to treat them honestly. The buyer's agent cannot give up any buyer info that would hurt the buyer (how much they like the property, how much they are willing to eventually pay, etc.). It does not matter who pays the commission, the buyer's agent represents the buyer.
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Old 07-07-2017, 03:45 AM   #18
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I have represented buyers and sellers. I have also been a "dual" agent, where I represented both parties (a buyer contacted me directly about a listing I had). In those situations, the Realtor walks a tightrope regarding the best interests of both parties. Not always easy, but it can be done. There have been numerous times when I have told the sellers that I will reduce my commission if they take the offer from the buyer I am also representing.
Most states allow this type of representation, as long as it is disclosed to both buyer and seller (I have both parties sign a form that explains the process).

Like most professionals, some Realtors are better at one thing than another. Some buyer agents are better negotiators than others. Some listing agents are too busy to take on buyers. Ask friends for referrals. Good luck.
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Old 07-07-2017, 03:48 AM   #19
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My experience has been that the agents are only working for themselves.
Sorry about that.
In my experience, working with about 400+/- other Realtors, the opposite is true. Referrals are the name of the game, and working only for yourself leads to a very short career.
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Old 07-10-2017, 07:44 PM   #20
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Update 2: I got fired by my broker! I think I was a bit too "involved" in the offer we were writing, and he finally said he thought it might be best if we parted ways. It was all very amicable, no heated discussion or anything, we just had different approaches to the problem. A nice guy, he helped us and I learned useful things. I'm moving on, I'm sure he is, too . . .
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