As a home buyer you go online and decide to call a listing agent about a property. Nothing wrong with that right? Actually there is something wrong with it and your rights as a home buyer are not being fully protected when you do.
A listing contract is a contract between a home seller and a real estate agent who is hired to represent the seller in the sale of the house. The “listing agent” has obligations to the seller that are described in law. The law of Agency (currently referred to as Designated Agency) states that the listing agent has a number of duties to the seller such as loyalty, and to exercise skill and care to get the best price and terms for the seller. The listing agent works for the seller and not the buyer.
When a buyer calls a listing agent directly they may not be aware of the risk of doing so. The BC government is and the BC Real Estate Council is eliminating the practice of dual agency in BC effective March 15, 2008. If you needed the services of a good lawyer would you call the lawyer representing the other party? Why then would you call a real estate agent representing the other party?
It is amazing to see listing signs that say “call me directly” on a specific listing. It is also interesting to hear all of the reasons why listing agents love to be called by buyers. At the end of the day many are merely hoping to double end the sale by either representing both parties through dual agency or by treating the buyer as a customer and also double ending both sides (listing and selling) of the real estate commission. Soon the practice of representing both sides will be eliminated by law in BC.
Why do buyers do this? Some have told me that they believe that the listing agent will know more about the property than any other realtor. This is not always the case and sometimes just the opposite is true. Why do people do things that they do? Why are things not always as they appear? The book Truth decoded delves into many of these reasons.
If you are a seller and need a good real estate agent go online and see what other people have said about the various agents. Then ask to speak to someone who used the services of the realtor. If a friend or acquaintance recommends someone ask them if they are getting a referral to recommend the person. Just because an agent has a specific number of listing advertised in a local newspaper does not mean that they are the best option. Some agents do not advertise in print media anymore because buyers are almost all online so print advertising is money wasted that could be spent online getting the visibility that your home needs for it to sell. As well, some listing agents focus on listing homes and sales are a secondary focus. Agents who represent the buyer who buys the home are credited with the “sale” even though their name is not recorded on the sign with the SOLD on it.
If you are a buyer who needs a good real estate agent go online and see what other people have said about the various agents and ask to speak to clients of the agent to get first hand feedback. Some agents just list homes, some just represent buyers and others help buyers and sellers. Ask if the agent ever represents both parties either as a client or a customer. If they say yes ask them why. Remember the earlier discussion about the government ceasing the practice of dual agency on the 15th of March 2018. A real estate agent should be prepared to commit to you as either a buyer or as a seller so that you receive the highest level of service and most protection under the Law of Agency.