From time to time we run into a situation where a buyer will approach us directly asking if they can get a better deal on the home if they work straight through us (the listing agent) vs. bringing their buyer agent along for the ride. The idea here being that if a buyer agent doesn’t have to be paid, the buyer can absorb some of that savings because the listing agent is theoretically doing the same amount of work but getting twice as much money.
That’s certainly a savvy question, and on the surface, a seemingly valid observation. But the reality is that when one agent is ‘working both sides of the fence’, the work-load is more than double and the risk level goes way up due to the inherent conflict of interest issues that must be managed to the satisfaction of all parties. For those reasons, most of the the more experienced listing agents won’t consider it because they’ve been down that road and felt all the bumps.
There is also the sellers to consider. They definitely sit up and take notice when one agent is getting all the commissions and ask the same question. “Hey…since you’re getting twice as much to sell it, can I get a discount?” It would be difficult to give a discount to the buyer without the seller being aware of what’s going on since the listing agreement would have to be modified to adjust the commissions. Once the seller sees that they’re going to want their cut, and the benefit you thought you might get just got cut in half. So now we’re getting into diminishing returns and the maneuver just gets less and less worth the effort.
But there’s another consideration….
When there is one agent representing both parties, it’s hard enough to give impartial advice/assistance without adding in a layer of resentment. “Wait…what? ” you ask? Yes….resentment. Agents are just as human as you. In fact, given the amount of time spent “in the ring” they may be even more reactive to this sort of tactic.
Can you picture “not” feeling resentment toward someone who wants you to give up your income for them so they can get a deal? If you’re looking for a better than fair shake on a property, it may not be the best policy to alienate the one person in a position to help you get all you can out of your purchasing experience.
“Penny wise and dollar foolish” is a real thing. A good negotiator is worth 10x what you pay them. Make sure you’re considering the bigger picture before you do anything rash. In most cases you’re going to get the best deal by enlisting the assistance of someone really good to help you structure a deal that leaves you with a satisfied smile on your face.