Friday, October 12, 2007

Why Buyers and Sellers Should Not Be Treated Differently

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A blog entry recently surfaced in the blogosphere from a San Diego Realtor who claims to be a Buyer’s Realtor, but in reality, he is a traditional Realtor, because he also works with sellers. Although this agent’s name will be spared, the focus of this blog entry will deal with the reasons why buyers should not be treated any differently than sellers. This distinction is very important, because buyers have traditionally been underserved and uninformed in the real estate industry--which is over 100 years old in the United States.

This agent wrote a hypothetical scenario of how he goes about critiquing a property. He did this by using a one-sided role-playing monologue to show how he works. Once he finished his one-man monologue, he started to explain the generic “benefits” of working with him, and then went on to make the assertion that in order to work with him, he would require a non-exclusive buyer’s agreement—along with his interpretation of the “benefits” of working in a non-exclusive capacity. The fallacy of his perceived “non-exclusive buyer benefits” will be explored with the use of critical thinking.

Using critical thinking skills, a person has to wonder if this agent would work in a non-exclusive capacity with a seller—and if not, why? After reading his web site, it has been found that he does not work with sellers on a non-exclusive basis; most listing agents do not. A good listing agent will go the distance for the sellers they exclusively represent. Does a buyer not deserve to receive the same level of service that a seller would receive? Why should buyers be treated any differently? Does this Realtor not understand that exclusive representation for buyers is only fair, considering the level of service and representation sellers have traditionally received for over a century? Why should consumers receive anything less as a buyer than they would as a seller, because a seller will usually become a buyer at some point in the future?

Lastly, this agent claims that it's only fair that buyers work through a non-exclusive agreement, because they are free to work with whomever they want. However, the decision to work under an exclusive agreement--or a non-exclusive agreement--is not a matter of fairness, but instead, a matter of buyer preference; because it depends on the level of service that a buyer wants to have. Buyers must decide for themselves whether they want to be treated as a client, or treated as a customer. As a client, buyers demand and get the best level of personal service from the professionals they work with, while buyers who are only customers are satisfied with—or are unaware of—arms-length transactional-based service.

An agent who offers transactional-based service is not concerned with the overall buying experience of buyers. Instead, they are only concerned with handling the particulars for the properties they find for buyers, also known as "procuring cause." Such an agent cannot call themselves an advocate for the buyer, who takes a personal interest in providing a level of service that includes the entire buying experience.

This level of service is the direct result of agent-client relationships that build over time. This keeps clients coming back in the future, because they know they will not be treated as a sales statistic. Such relationships include getting to know clients over time, getting to know their unique situations, getting to know their individual priorities, and taking all of this information into account when creating customized reports based on client needs, related research, compiled market data, interpretation of market trends, and area statistics. An advocate will synthesize all of this important information into a useful and valuable report that will assist their clients in making well-informed buying decisions based on their own unique situations.

This level of service is what a buyer receives as a client under an exclusive buyer agency agreement--not as a customer under a non-exclusive agreement. It also needs to be said that a traditional buyer agency agreement can be signed on an exclusive basis--meaning that a buyer agrees to work only with a particular agent from a traditional real estate office. However, if a buyer agent asks a buyer to consent to dual agency in writing, then the agreement is not for exclusive buyer agency services--which completely prohibits dual agency.

Seller’s receive a greater level of service from their exclusive listing agents, so why shouldn’t a buyer receive this level of service from their exclusive buyer’s agent? If a buyer is satisfied with an arms-length transaction, then a non-exclusive agreement may be right for them. However, buyers who demand the best service should insist on an exclusive buyer agency agreement, prohibiting dual agency, and they should articulate what they expect and need under the agreement.

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