Here is the problem:
With the shift toward a buyer's market many of the agents who focused on listing homes have gotten interested in working for buyers also. This shift has brought some obvious conflicts of interest that you need to be careful of when you choose a real estate firm to list your home.
The role of a listing agent should be to get your home sold for the highest price and best terms. But if that same agent is working as a "buyer's agent" you are likely to get caught in the middle of their desire to "double dip" or "triple dip" the transaction.
Simply put, if a real estate agent/company lists your home and it sells through another office, each company will typically receive about three percent of the sales price depending on the local market customs. But if the listing office brings in the buyer and completes the transaction their income usually doubles. If they bring in that buyer and direct that buyer to an affiliated lender, their income may triple because of the income they generate on the mortgage.
That is a big motivation for real estate professionals to compromise your interests in the transaction. Just think of the pressure they might put on you to accept an offer from a home buyer or a request for repairs for a buyer when it could double or triple their income for just a few minutes of twisting your arm.
In many markets these agents/companies even promote their ability to save buyers money at your expense.
Do a quick Yahoo search for the term: real estate home buying savings guarantee
You will see dozens of companies who take listings, yet guarantee to buyers that they will negotiate $5,000, $10,000, even as much as $25,000 off the asking price. How would it make you feel if you signed a listing agreement then found out later the agent/company guaranteed some buyer to shave money off your carefully researched price?
There is a solution:
Before you choose a company/agent to even interview, do an Internet search for their name and "savings guarantee" and/or "buyer services". See who they are really going to be working for. If they seem focused on working for buyers, move on.
Also, see if their web sites promote a particular mortgage company. If they have a mortgage affiliate it means that they have an additional motivation that is not in line with protecting your needs and promoting your best interests.
If they pass those two tests and you end up meeting with them, ask them how often their company represents both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. If they sense your concern they will often respond with something like "it is better for you if we bring in the buyer because then we have more control over that buyer".
Just realize that means tomorrow they will be telling a buyer that "it is better for you if you buy one of our listings because we have more control over the seller". And that seller might be you.
If you are able to avoid these companies and agents that claim to be buyer agents you should be able to find a dedicated real estate company and agent. And that will increase your chances to have a smooth transaction when you put your home on the market.
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