Many Staten Island home buyers wonder whether they really need to have their own buyer agent rather than just work through the listing agent. What buyers are not understanding is that the listing agent is hired by the seller to protect them and their interests. The listing agent, also known as the seller agent, owes fiduciary duties...loyalty, obedience, disclosure, confidentiality, diligence, and accounting...to the seller.
But what about the buyer? Who’s protecting your interests?
Unless you get yourself a buyer agent. A buyer agent is a broker who specifically looks out for the best interests of the buyer. What does that really mean for the buyer? Let me give you an example.
Loyalty. Obedience. Disclosure. Confidentiality. Diligence. Accounting.
Buyer agents must tell their buyers everything they can find out about the seller including the motivation for selling and any reasons the seller may have for wanting a quick sale. They must also tell their buyer everything they can find out about the property, including any known or suspected problems with the property or area. A seller agent may not reveal information about traffic problems, school system, declining property values, flood prone areas etc. since these items might make the property less desirable to buyers. But it’s a buyer agents job to keep their buyer informed and educated.
Bottom line…the seller agent must do everything possible to gain an advantage for the seller.
The buyer agent must do everything possible to gain an advantage for the buyer.
When a buyer buys a home with the seller agent, that seller agent now becomes a dual agent, meaning the seller agent is also representing the buyers. Actually there’s nothing “dual” about it. The listing agent is hired by the seller. End of story. Even though dual agency is technically legal, it’s virtually impossible to complete a real estate transaction as a dual agent without violating our REALTOR Code of Ethics.
“REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation of absolute fidelity to the client’s interests is primary.”
You may find the strength of these words warm and comforting, until you remember how the three types of real estate agents work (seller agent, buyer agent, dual agent). With most real estate agents, the client is the seller. Unless you’ve signed a contract with an exclusive buyer agent, the client is not you.
Buying a house without representation is like going to court and defending yourself or going to the hospital and operating on yourself!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to use buyer representation. Interview several agents. When you find an agent you’re comfortable with, sign an exclusive buyer agency agreement with him/her to protect your interests when buying a Staten Island home.