Who is Working for You? Listing Agents and Buyer Agents have Different Loyalties

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Jennifer Juliano, Realtor
Jennifer Juliano, REALTOR®
Keller Williams Realty
Boston-MetroWest
Member: KW Luxury Homes
Mobile: (508) 294-0778
I’ll Make It Happen.
You’ll Make It Home.

By Jennifer Juliano

Buying or selling a house is truly one of your largest investments. Having the right allied partners with you every step of the way is key to making sure that you’re covered. With many media outlets adding spins and misleading information about agency relationships, here is a brief outline of what you need to know. It does not cover everything relating to agency nor property disclosures, I only have so much space to write.

You see a house listed for sale with a real estate brokerage and call the number on the sign. They are the sellers’ agent, or commonly called, “the listing agent”. Said listing agent works solely for the seller. To partially quote directly from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Mandatory Agency Disclosure: “The agent owes the seller client undivided loyalty, reasonable care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accounting. The agent must put the seller’s interests first and attempt to negotiate price and terms acceptable to their seller client”.

In short, they are paid by the seller to represent, you got it, the seller. Now picture yourself as a buyer, maybe new to the process, new to the area, or just first time in a long time. Why would you not want to have someone on your side who is experienced to help represent you and your interests? The wording on that agency disclosure is similar for a buyer agency disclosure, just insert word “buyer” instead of “seller”.

Recently I attended an open house where the actual listing agent was hosting. I bring that up because the listing agent may not always be the one hosting; sometimes, it may be another agent in their firm. A busy open house, and as I was showing the property to my own clients, I overheard the other set of buyers say to the listing agent, “we’d like to make an offer through you so we can save money”. The listing agent told them flat out: “no, you need to get a buyer agent, my sellers and I do not want me to do dual or seller agency, nor would you save money”. Dual agency can get sticky, and someone often ends up feeling slighted and unrepresented, frankly, because they are.

The agent referred them to someone outside of her firm, and time will tell what happens with that buyer. Could she have done dual agency? Sure, if everyone agreed. Could she have sold the house as a seller agent directly? Yes. Did I silently applaud her for not agreeing to it? Also yes. Not because of me or my buyers, who didn’t pursue the house for other reasons, but because I’ve witnessed occasions where buyers left themselves unrepresented through the years when all they had to do was get their own agent to help them ask the questions or terms that a seller agent could not do on their behalf.

Whether you pay an experienced buyer agent yourself, or if they are compensated by the listing brokerage, it’s in your best interest overall to have someone guiding you and working on your behalf. An experienced agent will know the questions to ask, how to navigate situations that could or do arise, and help you the whole way home.

 

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