Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Seller Always Wins...IF

Real Estate Myth: A buyer who purchases a property directly from the listing agent is more likely to get a good deal because the listing agent may cut the commission since she gets both sides of the deal.

About that. I recently found this comment on a popular real estate forum from a top-producing listing agent, her words, verbatim, in blue.

"All buyers deserve to have proper representation and it's impossible if the listing agent is doing his job properly. My team and I are listing agents, and we ONLY represent the seller. There are always bumps in the road to the closing table, and buyers without representation are at a great disadvantage. Our seller will always win if the buyer is without representation.

Listing agents, do not encourage buyers to work directly with you. It's not to anyone's benefit, especially yours. The clean deal is the goal."  

Real Estate Truth: Buying a property from the listing agent makes as much sense as allowing the district attorney to represent the defense while leading the prosecution. Neither side should expect to get the most favorable result. Not only will a buyer probably fail to get the best deal when purchasing through the listing agent, he may find himself with his escrow deposit unnecessarily exposed and with terms less than optimal. Even if the listing agent cuts her commission in half, she is not allowed to advocate for the buyer in the negotiations. In fact, she cannot tell a buyer that the seller will take less than the buyer just offered even if she knows it. When I am representing a buyer I am obligated to use everything I already know and that I can find about the property and the seller in the battle to get the best deal for my buyer.

In a typical week, I am talking to listing agents, seeing properties and negotiating multiple offers. Not all of these negotiations result in accepted contracts. However, those failed negotiations do result in knowledge about those properties. That knowledge can be a powerful edge in subsequent negotiations for the same or similar properties. The result may be a lower price and/or better terms for my buyer. The listing agent can't share knowledge with a buyer that will give the buyer an edge and is certainly not going to beat up her seller trying to get a buyer a better deal. I am happy to. In fact, I am bound by my relationship with my buyers to do just that. All buyer’s representatives may not be as aggressive as I am, but, the good ones will almost always hammer out a better deal for their buyers than the buyers could get on their own through the listing agent.

Real world example; A condo purchaser in Cocoa Beach went directly to the listing agent, bargained really hard and somehow got the agent to reduce his commission to $1000 total for both sides of the deal and closed feeling good about his savings. I closed for a buyer on an identical unit in the same building in better condition a few weeks later for over $15,000 less. The kicker; it was listed for the exact same price as the first one.

Folks, you may not like real estate agents. Heck, I don’t like most of them, but, if a bulldog buyer’s agent can save you money, pinch your nose and get the deal done rather than shooting yourself in the foot in a misguided attempt to reduce the commission. I'm not alone in my opinion about buyers using the listing agent but it's not common for listing agents to advise a buyer that they should have their own representation. The lure of a bigger check is too great for most. Having said all that, an honest agent can serve as a transaction broker, advocating for neither side and pilot a deal to closing with neither party being harmed or at risk during the process. If you trust that the listing agent is honest and you're getting the best possible deal without unnecessary risk, have at it. If you're uncertain, do yourself a favor and get your own representation.

Cliff's Notes version; "...seller will always win if the buyer is without representation."

"Careless shepherd make excellent dinner for wolf."  ___Earl Derr Biggers