If you’re serious about buying or selling a home, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the role different types of agents play to help you navigate the process.
Depending on your needs, you’ll want a seller’s agent to help you m sell your home and a buying agent to help you find one. Their roles in the transaction are very different.
Let’s look at those differences and your options.
A seller’s agent (also known as a listing agent) represents the seller’s best interests. The seller’s agent’s job is to secure a buyer at the best possible price and terms acceptable to the seller. The seller’s agent will help you with pricing, staging, and marketing and negotiate any offers to get you the best possible price and terms. There is a listing agreement which includes commission and terms of the listing. The seller’s agent will ensure that all information in your home’s listing is accurate.
The buyer’s agent locates properties that fit your needs, schedules showings, gives advice on pricing, negotiates your offer, and guides you all the way to the closing table. A buyer’s agent has an intimate knowledge of past and present inventory, knows the facts about a home (legal bedroom and bathroom count, open permits, etc.), as well as information on the town, schools, location, and other factors. They work to get the best possible price and terms for you and are responsible for ensuring all the information on the listing is accurate.
In the state of N.Y., you are not bound to a buyer’s agent unless you sign a buyer’s agency agreement and very few agents will ask. This means you can use as many agents as you wish. In effect, buyer’s agents work for free and only receive commission if they find you the home you ultimately buy. If you find a buyer’s agent who is doing a great job, please remember they don’t get paid unless they sell you a property.
There is a state disclosure form you must fill out when you begin working with an agent. The state requires us to disclose who we are representing when we show a property. If the agent is showing one of their own listings, they must disclose it’s their listing and another disclosure form must be signed.
There are several scenarios where you may find yourself working with a dual agent:
- If your seller’s agent brings one of their buyer clients to see your home.
- If a buyer’s agent and seller’s agent work for the same company.
- If an agent works with a team and shows a property that is listed another team member.
If a seller’s agent shows their listing to their own buyer client and the buyer makes an offer, there are choices both parties have for representation:
- The seller’s agent can be a dual agent which means they don’t represent either party. They can’t offer advice to either party and serve as a messenger between the two.
- The seller’s agent or the buyer themselves can find a buyer’s agent. In this case, both parties have representation.
- If the listing company and the buyer’s agent company are the same, a state disclosure form is filled out indicating that both parties have separate representation.
Whatever is decided must be agreed to by all parties.
One final note. Some buyers feel if they go directly to a listing agent they will get a better deal. It’s possible but unlikely. First, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to arrange your own showings. Second, you may not hear about new listings that buyers’ agents would be aware of. And finally, since the listing agent’s job is to get the highest price possible, unless you are the highest bidder, the listing agent is unlikely to reduce their commission to give the buyer a better deal.
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