Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Agency Relationships

Real estate is a service oriented industry. It is also an industry that is based on relationships. The types of relationships are very clearly defined by our contracts, but it is not always clear to the average consumer. Making things clear to everyone is a part of our job that we take very seriously, and one of the reasons we enjoy working with first time home buyers and sellers. Anybody who does something on a daily basis becomes an expert in their field. It becomes so natural that it is easy to forget not everyone shares your expertise. That is something we have to remind ourselves of daily as we work with new clients. What has become obvious and routine to us is not obvious to everyone.

There are, in every real estate transaction, a buyer's agent and a seller's agent. It is also possible to have the same agent represent both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. We will get back to that later.

As a seller, you will hire an agent and agree on their commission. The listing agent will market your home in hopes of finding a buyer. They will agree to share their commission with the agent who brings the buyer and an acceptable to offer to the property. In short, all commissions are paid by the seller and then split between the buyer's and seller's agents and their respective companies.

This means that if you are a buyer, you receive all of the services provided by your agent at no cost. You will pay escrow fees and lender fees at the close of escrow, but no agent commissions. Remember that when you are trying to decide if you want the help of an agent as you search for property.

Earlier it was mentioned that the same agent can represent both parties in one transaction. This can mean two things. The first is that an "Agency" can represent both sides. For example, Coldwell Banker is a huge company and has many agents. Chances are very high that they end up on both sides of a transaction. It is also possible for one agent, or salesperson, to "double end" a deal which means that they represent both the buyer and the seller of a transaction.

There are times representing both parties makes sense, but for the most part it is something that we prefer not to do. Our goal as a listing agent is to get the highest possible price for our seller. Our goal as a buyer's agent is to get the best deal possible for our clients. Is there a conflict here? We find it hard to do both simultaneously. Therefore if we meet an eligible and interested buyer for a property we are listing, we would refer them to a trusted colleague and hope for the best!

Other than walking into a real estate office, the place you are mostly likely to run into a Realtor is an open house. The host of that open house may or may not be the listing agent. If they are not the listing agent, don't assume they are "just babysitting" the house. They are there to represent buyers, possibly you, on the sale of that or any other house.

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