When you’re looking to buy a house, you might think it makes sense to go directly to the listing agent who’s listed the property for sale.
Some of the more common reasons people give for doing so are:
- Why not? Doesn’t it just make sense… The agent listed the property and is the one selling it. They know all about the house.
- They know all about the owner, so maybe you can get some inside scoop and a better deal than if you had your own buyer’s agent in the mix.
- Isn’t it like buying a car? You have to go to the dealer selling the car, so don’t you go to the agent who’s selling the house?
- Some people say they just didn’t know any better.
- It’s just easier than finding and working with a buyer’s agent.
- It’ll be easier to deal with owner.
- And, last but not least, if the agent is representing both the buyer and the seller, people feel like the agent will get them a lower price. Either because the agent is getting “both ends of the deal”, and therefore making more money, so the agent has more incentive to get you the better deal… Or, since there’s no other agent involved, people feel that the price can be reduced by the amount of commission saved.
Some of the above is true to some degree. But, much of it is wishful thinking…or a complete misunderstanding of how things work.
So, let’s get into a few thoughts to help you decide if it truly makes sense for you to go directly to the listing agent when you’re buying a house.
The listing agent represents the seller.
OK, in most areas the listing agent can represent both the seller, and the buyer. As long as it’s disclosed that he or she is representing both parties, and both parties agree.
That doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you…or the seller.
Think about it for a minute. It’s pretty hard for someone to represent the best interest of both parties entirely. It isn’t impossible. But it’s tough.
And the first person the agent represented in the scenario is the seller. So it’s safe to assume that the agent probably has more allegiance to the seller. And if the listing agent doesn’t…if the listing agent helps you, the buyer, get an upperhand, well, that just doesn’t feel or sound right.
But, if that sounds good and right to you, and you find a listing agent who’s cool being in cahoots with you, then more power to you. The thing is, most real estate agents don’t play that way.
So, at best, you are “hiring” someone to represent your interest and the interests of your opponent. Think of it this way, would you hire the same lawyer to represent you and the person you’re fighting in court?
No, buying a home isn’t always that kind of battle, but the transaction is certainly large enough that it makes sense for you to have your own representation.
You should have someone representing you as the buyer. Hire your own buyer’s agent. Hire someone who’s going to help you get the best house, at the best price and terms.
If a listing agent pushes you to work with them…
Sometimes a listing agent will either hint at, or outright say that if you want to get the home for a better price, or get the home at all, you need to work directly with them.
The minute you hear that, run for the hills. Go find another agent. Work with the other agent to buy the house. And consider reporting the listing agent who said that. That is a huge red flag.
You have every right and option to choose your own agent to work with. No incentive or fear of loss should be implied for you to work directly with the listing agent.
This is especially concerning if you are already working with your own agent, and the listing agent knows that, and suggests or pressures you to not work with the agent you are already working with. If that happens, make sure to tell your agent. Let your agent take it from there…and don’t worry about it losing you the house or a better deal. It probably won’t.
Buying is a process.
At least buying should be a process.
Haphazardly looking at homes you come across online, or by driving by can cause you to miss homes that agents are seeing come on the market. Or ones that you may have overlooked, that they may point out to you as a great option, once they get to know you and your wants and needs.
When you work with one agent for the whole process, (at least a good buyer’s agent), you’re more likely to find, and not miss the best house for your needs. As much as the Internet allows you a lot more access to the inventory nowadays, it can be hard not to miss something, or overlook a great option on your own.
And when you work with an agent from start to finish, you build considerable trust. And that trust translates into getting yourself a better home, at the best price possible.
But when you’re just out there on your own, going to see every house you look at with a different agent, with no intention of working with that agent if you don’t buy that one house they are showing you…that spells disaster. If the agent only has that one shot with you, there’s a higher chance of an agent pushing you or selling you on doing something.
A great buyer’s agent who you have a committed relationship will look out for you and your best interests. So, before you even get serious about looking at homes to buy, do yourself a favor and find a great buyer’s agent and hire him or her.
Going directly to the listing agent has less upshots than it does potential downsides.