Category: Buy a House, First Time Home Buyers, Real Estate Agent.
Recently an old friend, Linda, (not her real name) told me she referred a couple named Jeff and Jill (ditto) who were thinking of buying a home in Philadelphia, a move from the suburbs. They had seen a home they liked at an open house. It has a large backyard for their dog and nice spaces for entertaining and enjoying life in a convenient neighborhood. So they wanted make an offer.
“How are you going to do that? asked Linda.
“Simple,” said Jeff. “I’ll just phone the agent and tell him we’d like to see the house again and than offer a little less than the asking price.”
“Yikes,” said Linda, who has had experience in the Philadelphia real estate market. “You need to get yourself your own buyers agent to represent you.”
I think Linda was right. Here’s why:
(1) A buyer’s agent works for the buyer without charge, no matter how much time or effort she puts in.
(2) A buyer’s agent has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for the buyer’s interest. She is on your side, first and foremost.
(3) An experienced Philadelphia buyer’s agent is able to negotiate the best deal for the buyer. She knows how to do the dance of making a deal, how to communicate with the seller’s agent to negotiate a smooth relationship in the sometimes complicated real estate transaction in Philadelphia that usually involves offers, and counteroffers. It’s not exactly a tango — more like a slow waltz.
(4) It takes two to do this dance, whatever you call it. Yes, a buyer may enter into a “dual agency agreement.” That’s when the same agent represents both the seller and the buyer. According to Pennsylvania real estate law, that’s a legal way to go. Buyers can rely on the agent’s obligation to take (in the words of the PA Consumer Notice) “no action that is adverse or detrimental to either party’s interest.”
All Pennsylvania real estate abide by the letter and the spirit of that obligation and would never violate it. Yet it requires a delicate balancing act to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interests. It can be a challenge an agent who is, in effect, negotiating with herself to produce that best result for both the buyer and the seller.
Speaking for myself an as experienced Philadelphia real estate agent, I prefer to represent either the buyer or the seller. In my opinion, it’s best for everyone if each is represented by a separate agent.
This story has happy ending. I represented Jeff and Jill as the buyer in the transaction. The Philadelphia home of their dreams is under contract and they are looking ahead to moving in this summer.