Always Call Your Agent, ALWAYS
Call Your Agent, Not the Number on the Sign!
It's Sunday afternoon, and you are out riding through neighborhoods of homes you love. And there it is! The house you always said "if it ever comes on market, I'm buying it!" The shear excitement takes over, and you call the number on the sign. You have been looking at homes with your Buyer Agent for the last 6 months, and you know she is sitting at an Open House at the moment. You don't want to bother her, so you agree to let the Listing Agent show you the home instead. You have now put yourself a "Dual Agency" situation.
Let's talk about the relationships buyers and sellers have with real estate agents. These relationships are referred to as "Agency", and when you understand the different agencies, you will understand why "Dual Agency" is not in the best interest of the buyer or seller.
Seller Agency: When sellers hire a real estate agent sell their home, that agent is representing the seller in a Seller Agency. That agent has duties and responsibilities to the seller that are in the best interest of the seller, and the seller alone. The agent owes the sellers the duty of Loyalty, Confidentiality, Disclosure, Obedience, Care and Accounting. Anything that causes the agent to compromise these duties puts the agent in a position of violating fiduciary duties and could put the agent's license and affiliation with organizations like the National Association of REALTORS at risk.
Buyer Agency: When buyers hire an agent to assist with procuring a home, that is a Buyer Agency. That agent has duties and responsibilities to the buyer that are in the best interest of the buyer, and the buyer alone. The agent owes the buyers the duty of Loyalty, Confidentiality, Disclosure, Obedience, Care and Accounting. Sound familiar? Yep, same as the duties the agent has to the seller in a Seller Agency.
Dual Agency - Serving 2 Masters: When buyers hire an agent to assist them with procuring a home that the agent has listed with the sellers, that agent is participating in Dual Agency. In the State of Illinois, Dual Agency is permitted. There are some states that actually have outlawed Dual Agency because those states have determined that it is not in the best interest of the consumer! Since it is legal in the State of Illinois, the buyer and seller must both consent, IN WRITING, to Dual Agency. Unfortunately, like many documents in real estate, buyers and sellers quickly glance over the documentation with little to no care for what Dual Agency truly means to their transaction.
The challenge with Dual Agency is not that the agent is sneaky or withholding information from the buyer or seller. The problem is that the law PROHIBITS the agent from giving fiduciary duty to either client because fiduciary care to one side compromises the other. What does that mean exactly to you as the buyer or the seller? It means you just lost your best advocate in your real estate transaction - your agent. Legally, as a dual agent, the agent can no longer advise the seller or buyer on things like price or terms. Both parties are left to "figure it out" without the guidance, knowledge and experience of the agent.
What happens when you get to a bump in the road in the contract? For example, the inspector recommends a roof replacement. Seller says no to roof replacement. Buyer won't purchase without a roof replacement. As an agent, how do you advise one party without compromising the other? You don't, because the law is very clear that everyone is on their own at this point. How frustrating would it be to have an agent you hired to negotiate things like this for you, only to have the agent shrug shoulders and say, "Sorry, you're on your own." What is the point in having an agent if the agent's hands are tied and the agent cannot help you negotiate the tricky items?
The Super Awesome House You Don't Won't to Bother Your Agent With: Let's get back to that awesome house you have coveted for the last 5 years. You don't want to "bother" your agent, but you really just want to run inside and see it in the next 30 seconds. You call the agent on the sign, and with your super-excited voice say, "I've been waiting for years to buy this house! Can I see it NOW?" You just compromised your negotiating position to the seller with your excited demand for immediate gratification, and you may have just lost your current favorite agent as your agent in this transaction should the listing agent successfully get you access to the property. The listing agent may come show it to you, or the listing agent may call another agent and refer you to the other agent. Either way, CONGRATULATIONS! You now have a new agent! Your favorite agent, who has been working with you for the last 6 months will NOT be your agent on this home should you decide to purchase after seeing it with another agent. Why? There's this little thing called "procuring cause" and what procuring cause means in this scenario is that the agent who showed you the house "procured" you as a buyer. Even if you go back to your other agent, the agent who showed you the home can go to your favorite agent and claim procuring cause which means your favorite agent is now your favorite-agent-who-will-not-be-representing-you in this purchase because the other agent "procured" you. Is that how you want to pick the agent representing you in purchasing one of your largest financial instruments?
The best thing to do in this situation? Call your Favorite Agent for any and all showings. If they can't do it, they will take care of arranging for another agent to show you the home, and they can still represent you during the purchase process because they made the arrangement. Oh! And if you find yourself constantly feeling like you are "bothering" your agent, you probably are, and your agent sucks (sorry, that is the best word for this). You need to get a new agent. Buying a home does not happen overnight. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes a few weeks and sometimes many months. A professional agent will always find a way to show you the home you want to see, and you won't be bothering the agent. As agents, we work for our clients, and if it is bothering us, we need to reassess our career choice.
Want to know more? Contact The Jen and Jean Team. With over 30 years of combined experience, you will get the representation you need to have a successful transaction.
If you live in the St. Louis MetroEast market and you are looking for the right agent to help you and your family buy or sell your next home, look no further than The Jen and Jean Team of RE/Max Alliance. The Jen & Jean Team would find it a privilege to help you and your family with all of your real estate needs.