HOMEBUYERS: THE LISTING AGENT DOES NOT CARE FOR YOU
There's a distinct group of homebuyers who want to have the listing agent write their offer instead of their own buyer's agent. The idea is that since the listing agent controls the sale, he/she has more power in getting your offer accepted. It's a fine case of nepotism - until you realize that the seller and their agent don't care about you. They just want your money.
Let's say you're buying the median house in the San Fernando Valley - around $650,000. I think it's a lot of money. You probably should too. You walk into the open house, and put that money into that agent's hands. It should seem ridiculous, because it is.
As with anything, there are exceptions. The listing agent could indeed be a kind-hearted soul (even then, it still reeks of a conflict of interest). Or the buyer's agent you've been working with turns out to be terrible anyway (it only takes two months to get licensed).
Nonetheless, here are two very logical reasons to simply just find a reputable buyer's agent.
1. The listing agent gets double the commission.
The seller doesn't get the buyer's agent commission. You don't get the buyer's agent commission. The listing agent does. Their goal now is to close this deal at all costs. They don't care about the leak in the attic, the termite infestation in the corner of the house - or anything that will stop them from making $30,000 on this sale.
With SFV inventory at an all-time low, agents are selling the least number of houses ever. Every chance they get at a commission check, they'll take it.
I've heard buyers talk about shaving the buyer's agent commission off the purchase price. "If there's no buyer's agent, then the seller can come down on price." This is wrong. It's built into the contract that the listing agent gets that commission. No one is coming out ahead on this except for the listing agent.
Understandably, it's a seller's market in the SFV. Other buyers believe that the listing agent has more influence in getting their offer accepted. The seller hired the agent because they trust the agent, after all.
While this is a valid point on paper, experience shows that sellers become doubly wary when their own agent is presenting an offer. Sellers already don't like paying commission. When they're paying double the amount to the same agent, they become cautious.
2. Conflict of Interest
I'm not a ladies' man, but I can certainly say that having two girlfriends never works out. Neither of them get the love they want. When it's your birthday, are you having lunch with one and dinner with the other? If you are, is the one you're having out for dinner more important?
Now, take this concept and apply it to dual representation. Even if the listing agent is totally well-meaning, it's impossible for them to be impartial.
A good buyer's agent will fight to the death when requesting repairs. But an agent representing both sides simply can not fight to the death. From one minute to the next, it's impossible to extoll the dangers of structural wood rot - then switch to believing, "eh, it hardly rains here in the Valley".
In dual representation, you lose all your rights to loyalty. The extra mile that an agent goes for you is gone. The easier the transaction, the better.
Solutions to this Issue
At Get Real, Valley, we strive for positivity. It's one thing to complain about something, but another to find a solution for it. The issue here is a matter of integrity. Here are three ways to inject integrity into these situations, should you find yourself in it.
1. Double check everything - or find someone to
Generally speaking, there's a standard set of forms that every real estate transaction uses. You want to pay the most attention to the Transfer Disclosure Statement and the physical inspection report. These two will be the most illuminating in everything wrong with the house.
If you're a homebuyer, you probably have a mortgage loan officer. While they don't do real estate, they can at least give you professional advice. Don't take their word for it, but do let them know when you have any concerns.
You can also find a real estate agent to pay on the side for double-checking the paperwork. I don't think you'd pay them a full commission out of your own pocket, so negotiate with them what their fees would be.
2. Make sure your offers are strong
As previously mentioned, buyers sometimes believe that going through the listing agent gets them a deal.
There are two simple solutions to this:
Find an agent who gets offers accepted
As we always say, if your agent is simply emailing offers, then your chances of acceptance are minimal. Edgar breaks down in this video how to get offers accepted.
Getting offers accepted is an art form. It's up there with a tennis serve or a date in Northridge.
That's the problem. In the Valley's tight seller's market, a well-priced property will receive multiple offers. Why should they choose you? These sellers are likely using the proceeds from the sale as a launching pad for the next chapter of their lives, and it's all counting on you. Going through the listing agent does not give them any logical boost.
Make your offers better
Regardless of your offer, the seller ultimately decides. If your offer isn't strong enough, then it's simple - the seller will not accept it. Going through the listing agent and thinking that it'll get you a deal is a waste of everyone's time.
Up your price, better your terms, or find a house that you really think is worth your money.
It's very possible that the concept of going through the listing agent has never occurred to you. That's fine. But for those that consider it, remember that you're going to be paying this mortgage for the next 30 years.
There is only one person who can claim sole responsibility for this task, and that is your buyer's agent. Find the right one and be patient.