Listing agent vs Buyer's agent; Dual agents - Roles in Real Estate
If you're buying a home, you might be tempted to call the number on the sign in the yard, but you should stop and think before you dial.
Who you call for assistance with buying a home can either cost or save you a lot of money, and potentially time and grief down the road as well.
In a on going effort to educate home buyers new to the experience, there is a simple thing you really need to get in your head before you start house hunting and that's understanding agency.
It's really quite simple:
The listing agent is (hopefully) a very skilled and voracious marketer that has promised the seller to net as much as possible from the sale of the home. A buyer's agent is like the wise owl and dedicated to serving a home buyer including saving you money and time while skillfully protecting your interests.
Some agents are very ethical, others just chase commission checks. Learn more about finding a great agent below.
Why on earth would you call the listing agent who represents the seller and not have your own unbiased representation - it's almost like going to court and negotiating. You need your own attorney, and in the same way you need your own professional Realtor representing you as a buyer's agent.
Roles in Real Estate Simplified
Any agent can function as either a listing or a buyer's agent and also a dual agent. Some agents have preferences with that regard, but it's actually about "agency" which is the role the agent is playing with regard to your position; buyer or seller. If you call the listing agent, you're in danger of dual agency as explained down below.
You only need to work with one agent at a time, though you have the right to fire an agent at any time. When you list a home, you list it with one agent and hopefully you choose a good one, and conversely, when you buy a home you only need to work with one agent; again, choose wisely.
Please understand, most buyer's agents work for you at no direct cost to you and do not get paid until you are sitting at the closing table together. So, if you are happy with your agent, please be loyal to them and they will do the same in return. (some buyer's agents charge "additional commissions" and can be as much as $500, but, we do not do that)
We are full-time Realtors, unlike some, and our income is 100% reliant on closed sales. I think that it would be safe to assume that you go to work in hopes of being rewarded with a paycheck at the end; this is no different for Realtors, so please be mindful of this when looking at homes and respect your hard-working Realtor whether it is one of us or someone else.
In any case, the best thing to look for in agent is lots of great reviews and testimonials
Understanding "Dual Agency"
Dual Agency is when you call the listing agent and that agent ends up representing both you, the buyer and the seller and can't "go to bat" for either of you. The burden of due diligence now falls entirely on your shoulders and you're really representing yourself with the agent being a mere facilitator. Most agents don't like performing dual agency, but some do as, since the seller pays all commissions involved now have a chance to "double dip" on commissions.
The average commission the seller pays is 6%, and typically 3% to the listing agent and 3% to the buyer's agent. So, before you call the listing agent, think about the dangers of not being fairly and passionately represented.
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