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Should I use the Listing Agent to Represent Me as a Buyer?

Should I use the Listing Agent to Represent Me as a Buyer?

When an agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction, it is referred to as dual agency. Dual agency also exists when the brokerage represents both the buyer and the seller through two different agents. It is legal in California; it’s not an uncommon practice and it can be done very well. Over the years, I’ve run across many buyers who it’s their strategy to try and win the offer process by seeking out the help of the listing agent on each property they are interested in thinking that is how they are going to have success in a competitive seller’s market.But is that the best strategy?Here are a few things to ponder and some of the “rules” we as agents are to go by, if you are thinking that is the route you want to take in trying to get an offer accepted.

Disclosure of Agency Relationships - Agency relationships are to be disclosed to both parties at offer presentation. In a dual agent situation, both parties must consent that they are ok with a dual agency. If the listing agent has made an agreement with the seller that if they represent the buyer as well, they will reduce their commission, that must be disclosed to other agents in the MLS.

Fiduciary Responsibility - The listing agent has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller already. That means the listing agent must guide the seller in a way that will benefit them financially. In a dual agency situation, the listing agent has the obligation to get the seller the most money possible and as a buyer’s agent, has a duty to the buyer now to help them get the property for the best price possible. This can be a tricky predicament to be in as an agent but can be done. As an agent in a dual agency situation, the agent has an obligation to NOT disclose proprietary information of either party to the other party, without the permission of said parties. For example, a dual agent in representing the seller should not tell the buyer the lowest amount the seller is willing to take and in turn, when representing the buyer, should not tell the highest amount the buyer is willing to pay.

The Benefit of Having Buyer’s Agent that is not also a Dual Agent - There are multiple benefits that come with working with one agent throughout the course of your buying process. First, they get to know you well and what you are looking for. Second, because you’ve built a relationship over the course of the home search process, they can help you keep your emotions in check if the negotiations get dicey. Thirdly, when you have an agent that represents your interests solely, you are less likely to wonder if your agent is in your corner even when they may be diligently working for both parties.

Usually when the buyer’s strategy is to seek out representation from the listing agent, it’s been my experience that they do so with the idea that they will have an advantage with the seller.It is important to keep these things in mind when deciding if that strategy is right for you. As always, consulting with your realtor®and asking them these questions can be a great place to start.