I’m going to explain something important all buyers should be aware of before they get too deep into the process, it’s called “Double Ending”. Realtors like it because they get paid more but for you it could be a disaster.
Here’s a Common Scenario
Let’s say you’ve been following the market online for a while now and found a home that looks perfect for you. You drove by the outside and it was everything you thought it would be. Price was right, good area, exactly what you are looking for.
Well, because you don’t have a Realtor you’re working with you call the Realtor on the sign. This person is known as the listing agent. You explain you are considering making an offer on the property. The listing agent jumps on it and offers to show you the home. He tells you to bring a cheque.
You go have a look and the home doesn’t disappoint, it’s the one! You tell the Realtor (whom you’ve just met) you want to write an offer. That’s fine right? He’s a Realtor so why not let him write the offer for you?
The problem is that it puts you in a weak position when negotiating.
Double Ending Explained
First off I’ll tell you how Realtors get paid. The short answer is to sell a home. This is also the long answer. We receive a commission on the successful sale of a home. We have no other means of income.
The commissions we earn are supplied by the seller, buyers don’t pay commissions. The Realtor representing the buyer then gets paid from a portion of the total commission the seller is paying. It’s usually a 50/50 split, so if the seller’s total commission is 4% of the sale price, 2% is offered to the agent that brings the buyer (writes the offer) and 2% goes to the agent that listed the property.
A large majority of home sales in Regina (90% plus) involve two Realtors…one representing the buyer and one the seller. From time to time though, the listing agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. This is known as “double ending”. Realtors like this because they can earn both sides of the commission split or “double” the amount of money.
Here’s the Problem With It
It’s a conflict of interest. The Realtor has “inside” information on both parties.
The listing Realtor has picked up information from you in the process of showing you the home. Clues as to your financial ability, your motivation and where your head is at.
The listing agent also has a relationship with the seller. He probably knows why the seller is moving and how much they might be willing to take for the home. He may even be good friends with the seller.
With This in Mind Can You be Sure the Listing Agent has Your Best Interest in Mind Over the Seller?
How do you know he didn’t overhear (or maybe you just told him) you would pay $275,000 for the home but would like to offer $265,000 to see if the seller will accept it. When the counter comes back at $275,000 you’ll be left wondering if the Realtor sold you out.
Now, there are rules in place (I must stress this) that Realtors must follow to make sure this doesn’t happen and all parties are treated fairly. When a Realtor acts for both the buyer and the seller in a transaction they must not discuss money or motivation with either side.
This means that when you look to the listing agent for advice on how much to offer or inquire as to why the seller is moving they have to close their mouth and tell you they can’t help you. You’re on your own to try and figure out how to proceed.
Doesn’t Seem Very Helpful Does It. So What Should You Do?
The best solution is to have a different Realtor from another brokerage work on your behalf. They can serve you better by helping you come up with a strategy to get the property for a good price and to make sure all the inspections are done correctly.
Since Realtors are free when you buy (we get paid by the seller) it doesn’t cost you any money to have better representation.
Having someone that doesn’t have an interest in the subject property working on your behalf ensures you get fair and impartial advice.