If you are online researching homes on any site, you will be asked to contact the listing agent. Don't do it. Find an agent that you trust, is knowledgeable about the type of home, the area, and financing.
Why, you ask. The Listing Agent has a fiduciary responsible to the seller. They will not be representing you at all.
What difference does that make to you. Let's go step by step.
First you will preview the property. Your reactions will be noted and reported back to the seller. If it is favorable you will loose a bargaining chip. Your argument to me could be that you love the house and don't want to loose the house. You would pay their price.
Question: Would you pay the asking price? Would you pay more than the market price? If the answer is yes, my number is? You are a Realtor's dream. Yes, to the asking price. The listing agent if they did their job well, it should be priced right.
How about more than market price? Well, historically home prices should increase with time. In recent years, we have seen wide swings in the housing market. Homeowners are finding themselves upside down in their home. This isn't a situation that you want to find yourself in, this is the largest purchase that you will ever make. It is your largest investment. Do you really want to find yourself unable to sell.
Okay, you found the house. You are in love with the house. You think about it day and night. Let's put an offer into the seller. The agent represents the seller, they may not realize it but they could influence your offer favoring the seller.
You want someone who will get you the best deal and is it really the listing agent?
Now, it is time to obtain financing. At best this will be labor intensive. Your agent and the loan broker will be in constant contact ( and so will you). Your agent needs to know what they need to do to get this offer to the underwriter. They will know everything about you and your credit needs. If this information goes to the listing agent, it will go right back to the seller. It is their fiduciary responsible to inform all details to seller. You need someone who will help you, not that the seller agent wouldn't want to help you but it is the law. You may have perfect credit (not many of us do with this economy) and don't predict any problems but there are always some sort of issues to be resolved. Involved in this process is the issue of the Appraisal. In my career I have had only one property not appraise for the contract price. It was in the beginning of the real estate scandal, not that I was a part of it, the condo's price was above recent selling prices but it had features that the other condo's didn't and I had to fight and convince the appraiser that these features warrant the contract price and would he reconsider.
Okay, you now, have an accepted offer and financing. It is time to close and the title agent doesn't have all of the papers and contracts. Your agent needs to get on the phone and encourage (notice I said encourage and not press, coerce or demand) the parties to get off their behinds and do their jobs. It could be the responsibility of the financing, the seller, or the buyer to get the necessary papers into the title agency to close.
The property is now yours but the seller can't move or won't move. Adverse possession, don't think that this can't happen and if it does the law will be on your side. This week, a man came home to his empty house only to find that there was a squatter in his home and he had sold most of his appliances and fixtures. The law isn't clear to adverse possession and who wants to go through the courts to get the squatter out. When I do a deal and it is time to close, I insist that the seller be completely out of the property and the buyers do a walk thru before signing any papers. If I was representing the seller, I might not do that, especially if I know that they aren't completely out. The buying agent would press the issue and not let you close until the buyers were completely happy with the condition of the house. The walk thru is important, you want to make sure that the seller is out and left the house in the condition that you viewed the home.
I have done dual agency where you represent the seller and the buyer, but lately do the scandal, dual agency is the thing of the past. Now, you represent on or the either. You really want someone to represent you because you don't purchase homes everyday and it is the largest investment you will ever make.
I don't want you want to think that these actions are immoral. They aren't, they are just working according to the contract. The agent is working for who they represent, let's make sure that you are who they represent.
Like the old adage goes, If it is meant to be, let it be me.
Until we meet again,