You have been working diligently to find the home that you will love for the next several years and have finally had that moment where things start falling together. The pictures look wonderful, you have researched the area, and it is the home for you. You have talked with your lender and have been pre-approved. You want to know more about this home and go look at it to see if the pictures do it justice. The question is, “how do I find the listing agent”?
Listing Agent or Buyer’s Agent?
Most of us have been on the housing websites that have real estate agents’ faces off to the side to click on when you have a question. When you call that Realtor, they need to know what home you are looking at, and you tell them the blue one they have listed with the pool. They say they need an address, and you think it is odd since they can’t have too many blue homes with a pool in their portfolio. This is when you find out that you did not find the listing agent with all of the answers, you have found yourself a buyer’s agent.
What’s the Difference?
So what is the difference? Is this a bad thing? A buyer’s agent isn’t going to know all of the things about the home that you want to know. Many people are led to believe that the listing agent is who they should work with because they will not only get all of the answers, they will also be able to work out a better deal. This is not the case. As Realtors, we have a set of guidelines and moral duties we abide by. We promise to work fairly and honestly. To use skill and care and diligence in all of our activities. To disclose every known fact, even if it is harmful to the sale of the house. These, along with several other duties will be promised by any Realtor including the listing agent.
Here’s Where it Gets a Little Tricky.
As a listing agent, I have a relationship with my customer and know things that I must hold confidentially. These aren’t going to be things like the roof leaks….these things I have a duty to disclose regardless if I know about them. What I mean is my customer may be going through financial hardships and I know they will take a little less than asking price. Or their job has moved and they need to sell quickly and will sacrifice the price to make this happen. If you call the listing agent, they can’t tell you these things as they are bound by duty to their customer. In fact, once you start using them as your Realtor, the relationship with both the seller and buyer change and both parties lose a bit of the package of duties we promise to abide by. Honesty and skill and obedience and all of that is still a given. However, loyalty can’t be given fully to both sides. It is not possible. The Realtor has to focus a little more on the transaction rather than the specific party when it comes to hard negotiations so he doesn’t break the rules we abide by.
This isn’t the end of the world. In Hawaii, we perform dual agency (the same company working for both buyer and seller) often. We help the transaction along to a positive outcome for both parties and everything works out great. However, if you started out with a buyer’s agent and had their full attention, it might work even better for you. The buyer’s agent can negotiate harder for you and only has your best interest in mind. They don’t have to step as tenderly when it comes to the seller’s feelings. This can help you negotiate that harder bargain.
Who Should You Choose?
In the end, it is up to you whether you want to use the listing agent or your own buyer’s agent. I don’t know of any Realtors that charge for their services to the buyer. It is customary for the seller to pay the Realtor fees to both brokerages at closing, so shop around and pick the agent that you like the most — one that will work to find the home of your dreams. Find one that can add a little humor and calm to the purchase when things get bumpy, and most importantly, one you trust and can put your faith in through the entire process. It doesn’t cost you any money, and you can have the best agent you can find to work hard for you. Good luck! Make it happen!