You're surfing the web to find your perfect home on Hilton Head Island. All of the sudden, there it is, and it looks and sounds too good to be true. You want to see it right away. You think about calling the listing agent (that's the agent who represents the sellers).
Before you call, you ask yourself this question, "If the listing agent represents the sellers, who will represent you?". Now you start worrying about things like: how much is the house is worth, how much should you offer, and how much should you pay.
You click on Google and ask the question, "Can the listing agent get me the best price and terms on his or her listing?" Up pops a lot of answers, and this one from a veteran broker gets your attention: "Now how can that be when the listing agent is trying to get the highest price for the sellers. I'd like to know what that agent's plan is for getting you the best price and the best deal. You would want to know also!"
One option would be for that agent to be a dual agent, representing both the sellers and you. If you are not comfortable with that arrangement, the Broker-in-charge of that office could designate a different agent to represent you, or you could find an agent from another company to negotiate the purchase on your behalf (as a client with an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent Agreement).
If you do decide to work with the listing agent (and represent yourself as a Customer), remind yourself that the listing agent is working for the seller. Therefore, you will have to research the house value, the local market, the neighborhood, the comparables and be a good negotiator to get the best overall real estate deal.
Here is something else to consider, when the listing agent brings in the buyer, he or she gets the full commission. There is no cooperative commission to pay to another broker. With that in mind, there may be an opportunity to negotiate some buyer incentives to sweeten your real estate purchase. Buyer incentives may include a Home Owner Warranty, a Decorator Allowance, etc.
Buying a home through the listing agent makes a lot of sense if you know the market, the comparables, and how to negotiate your best real estate deal. Otherwise, find an Accredited Buyer’s Agent (ABR) and become a client with an Exclusive Buyer’s Agency Agreement.
Carl Schroeder, 2014 Hilton Head Realtor of the Year, is a Realtor and associate broker with Foundation Realty, serving the Hilton Head and Bluffton areas since 1976. Carl@hargray.com