A bazillion years ago in the land of make believe real estate, there wasn’t a thing called buyer agency. All real estate agents either represented the seller directly or were a “sub-agent” of the seller. I personally call this submarine agency since these were agents lurking beneath the waters torpedoing buyers with “representation.” What buyer agency looks like varies from agent to agent from the disguise-an-agent who is really a sub-agent to those that take the term seriously. You know you might have a buyer agent in disguise if the agent shows you their listings first or their company listings first. That is someone that represents their sellers or their company. Not you. Me? I take it seriously. It’s a golden rule thing for me. I guess I think if I’m going to hire someone to watch my back, I’d want them to actually do just that.
Like all things, events in the world of real estate triggered my thoughts on buyer agency. This recent thought process was about why buyer agency is a good thing for sellers. Seriously…sellers, you should love really good buyer agents. As if you had a choice but to listen to me, here’s why…
Lawsuits. It’s that simple.
If you bought or sold a home 20 years ago, you likely had a one to two page contract. Filled with few clauses, it was essentially a formal handshake agreement. Today, we don’t like shaking hands without the proper legal disclosures that hands carry a lot of germs so it is in your best interest to carry around a lot of that hand sanitzer goop to prevent illness. Our world can’t function without disclosures because we have learned to not be nice to each other, somewhere along the road, and we have engrained in our culture that even if it is your fault you can still sue someone just for the heck of it. Why be responsible for your own behavior when you can blame someone else? Not to demean those that have been truly wronged, but our real estate contracts seem to grow by a page each year with a plethora of new addenda to address the most recent issue of someone not following the golden rule.
As I stated before, I take buyer agency seriously. As such, I’m often asking questions about a property before we make an offer because I prefer to not waste everyone’s time if there is something that would be a deal breaker for my client. Inspections cost money, and I don’t want my clients to lose money, if I can prevent it. I recently asked a listing agent a couple of things about a property. The response I got was stunning.
Seriously. Like a fly being swatted at, I was told to take my buyer and go elsewhere. Flabbergastation. Okay, I’ll admit it. I just like saying the word. You have to admit it is a pretty cool word though.
The shoo fly shoo strategy isn’t in the best interest of a seller, in my opinion. The fact is that people sue each other in real estate ALL the time. Part of my job as a listing agent is to minimize the chances that my seller will get sued. I do this by being upfront, honest, and answering any questions the buyers have so they know, without a doubt, that my clients aren’t hiding anything. There is no question that my clients will share what they know, openly and freely. They allow buyers the opportunity to inspect and get quotes to their hearts desire because what I know is that an informed buyer is less likely to sue.
People engage in lawsuits when they feel that someone wasn’t forthcoming. I can’t think of a better way to convince people that you aren’t forthcoming than to say “yeah, we don’t want to answer questions.” I get that it might be irritating. I get that it might be time consuming. I get that you would prefer the easy button. Really, I do get it. We buyer agents, that take our fiduciary duties, seriously, are a pain in your hiney. Dear sellers, please understand that you get the side effects of that as a benefit to you. Shoo Fly Shoo has no place in the world of real estate. I was given more information about my $70 Cuisinart tea pot than I was about a house for a client. You all know a house costs just a tad more, right? Helping a buyer feel totally comfortable with the purchase of your house also means they will be less likely to sue you in the future. If you don’t get anything else, please get that.