Question: We have been waiting for the Real Estate market to be on the upswing to sell our house and downsize. We do not have any contacts in the community for either a buyer’s agent or seller’s agent. Can you explain the differences in agent representation?
Answer: A critical question and one that needs to be understood thoroughly. In any market, whether you are buying tomatoes at the Farmers Market or a home to raise a family, there is a buyer and a seller. And each is trying to achieve the best possible terms for their respective situations. The goal in both scenarios is similar, but the consequences of the latter infinitely greater. You can toss your bad tomato in the compost pile…but you “own” your home.
Most often people who wish to make a real estate transaction hire professionals for advice. Not unlike hiring an accountant for an important tax issue or a lawyer for legal advice. Most commonly, each party has its own representation, just like each party having its own attorney in a legal dispute. Finding that person, (aka, an agent or broker), that will best represent your interest is arguably the second most important decision you will make.
Real Estate professional are licensed in the State of Washington and many, but not all are Realtors®. (This is a good question to ask any agent: Are you a Realtor®?) Our state has very specific laws regarding buyer & seller representation; please see the attached “The Law of Real Estate Agency”. It is pretty well written and understandable, not a lot of legalize. The Realtor “Code of Ethics” layouts out the moral and ethical guidelines Realtors® must follow, (also attached). You do not have to be a Realtor to sell Real Estate in Washington, but you must be one to work at Windermere and most other major brokerages. Most small outfits are not Realtors and do not pay annual dues.
Bottom line; a Listing Agent represents a seller’s best interest and a Buyer’s Agent, (also sometimes known as the Selling Agent), does the same for the buyer. A BIG caution to everyone; it is legal for an agent to represent both parties in a transaction. I do not understand how… but they can, and in my humble opinion should be avoided at all costs. Would you want your attorney also to represent your opponent at trial? How could one agent possibly negotiate the best deal possible for both parties?
Another fact many people do not realize; the seller customarily pays all commissions…both to the Listing Agent and the Buyer’s Agent. Expert advice for buyers paid by someone else!