So you are looking for a new home, you have searched the local paper, checked out mls.ca and decided that there are options out there that meet your needs. You know the neighbourhood you want to live in and you are pretty clued up what is a good deal in that area so you don’t need all the great information that a realtor can provide like: schools, up and coming neighbourhoods, proximity to shopping and comparable sales. So why not just directly contact the listing agent?
Here’s why. The listing agent is contracted to represent the Seller of the property. If you go directly to them they will either offer you a customer as opposed to client relationship or you sign up as their client too and then you get into a situation called multiple representation. In this case the realtor is trying to serve two masters as both the buyer and seller representation agreements require them to act in the best interest of their clients, so both clients get a scaled down version of the service to try to minimise potential conflicts. If you opt for the customer relationship the realtor is obliged to be honest with you but is not required to always act in your best interests – that is reserved for the Seller who is a client.
If you go in there with your own representation you have someone that is working 100% for you. And what is even better, with the way things stand in the industry at the moment the cost for this service is paid for from the commission that the listing agent charges the seller. (Although this may be subject to change – see my earlier post on the Competition Agreement). In summary you get a trained individual to help you negotiate the deal and point out any flaws in the property or neighbourhood that you may miss. In addition many realtors have great contacts with mortgage professionals which can save you big bucks. And the total cost to you for all these benefits is nothing – so perhaps the question should be “Why not use a buyer’s agent?”