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Everything You Wish You Knew BEFORE Calling a Listing Agent

I am interested in a home I found online.  Should I call the listing agent and set up a viewing?

Nowadays, many home buyers begin their home search from the comfort of their own home using online home search tools.  These sites also conveniently provide the contact information of the listing agent so that you can schedule a home viewing.

What the sites conveniently don’t tell you (and frequently, neither does the agent) is that if you view the home with the listing agent you may end up stuck with working with the listing agent.

The listing agent offered to be my buyer’s agent.  Is this a good idea?

This is not a good idea from a home buyer’s perspective because the home buyer will not have anyone protecting their interests through negotiations, inspections and inspection resolutions, and closing.  There are many differences between a listing agent and an exclusive buyer’s agent.  Dual agency (where the listing agent represents both the buyer and the seller) has inherent conflict of interests.  Poor protection for buyers through this method created the need for exclusive buyers agents.

If a listing agent shows me the home I want to buy, am I obligated to work with them?

Even if you have not signed a written agreement with the listing agent, it will be very difficult to switch agents or work with an exclusive buyer’s agent at this point.  For one thing, it violates the code of ethics, and for another, there is the issue of “procuring cause.”

“Procuring cause” is essentially a payment issue.  Traditionally, half of the commission is reserved for the listing agent, and half for the buyer’s agent.  If a home buyer has viewed a home with the listing agent, the listing agent can retain the commission that would normally be paid to the buyer’s agent.

This then presents you, as the home buyer with a dilemma.  You want representation, and someone to protect your interests.  But, the commission is being paid to someone that is protecting the home seller’s interests.

I viewed the home with the listing agent but I want a home buyer’s agent.  What can I do??

The best thing to do is find, interview, and sign an agreement with a buyer’s agent you trust before viewing homes with anyone else.  But, once the damage has been done, there is still hope!

“Procurring cause” is pretty complicated and has some gray areas.  The best course of action is to allow the professionals to work it out.   Your buyer’s agent may be able to discuss the specifics of your case with the listing agent and come up with a solution that protects everyone’s interests.

What is the best type of agent to protect my interests as a home buyer?

Buyer agency was started to protect the interests of the home buyer.  There are conflicts of interest when a listing agent represents the seller.  For example, during negotiations:  The seller wants the sale price possible, the buyer wants the lowest price possible.  How can one person represent these two conflicting interests?

The best type of representation for home buyers is working with an exclusive buyers agent.  An exclusive buyer agent does not have listings of their own, which eliminates the conflict of interest and provides maximum protection.

How can I find an Exclusive buyer agent?

The Colorado Exclusive Buyer’s Agent Association is a nonprofit association for exclusive buyers agents in Colorado.  All members work exclusively with buyers, not sellers.  To find buyer’s agent in your area, call 800-383-7188 or fill in the Find and Agent Form and our staff will provide you with members in good standing.

Should I start my agent search or my house search first?

You should first find an agent you trust.  They can help you with your home search, and guide you through the entire process.  Also, you will avoid any representation issues that arise when you view a home with one agent but want to work with another.