Will Real Estate Return to the Days of “Buyer Beware?”
Twenty-five or thirty years ago, all real estate agents worked for the
The listing agent was in direct contact with the seller and performed
much the same duties that listing agents perform today. However, the
agents who brought buyers to view the house also worked for the
They were sub-agents, and the only duty they had toward the buyer was
that of honesty. They could not knowingly misrepresent the property.
As sub-agents, their duty was to the seller. As far as the buyers were
concerned, real estate agents were door-openers who assisted buyers in
filling out all the blanks on an offer form. Then they had some
obligation to make sure things were done on time.
There were agents who went against the rules and did for all intents
and purposes worked “for” the buyers, giving advice and support
throughout the transactions. Some even revealed confidential
information that sellers didn’t want shared with buyers. They
weren’t supposed to do any of that.
In fact, if they knew confidential information about the buyers that
would help a seller’s bargaining position, they were supposed to
share it. Buyers needed to be careful what they said to any agent.
The rule in those “Good old days” was “Buyer beware.”
Then along came buyer representation.
Buyers now had someone who worked only for them. Buyer agents now had
a duty to advise and protect their buyer clients at every step along
But now – there are those who want a return to “Buyer Beware.”
Folks at iBuyer companies say there’s no need for buyers to even
meet in person with an agent – it can all be done with technology.
Companies like Redfin say they provide all the advice buyers need via
the Internet. They can learn how to make an offer, how to order an
inspection, how to contact the listing agent to arrange for access to
the home, how to work with a lender, and how to work with an attorney
or title company to close the transaction.
Never mind that these buyers have no one working for them who will
answer questions or help them negotiate with the sellers. They have no
one to help them write an appealing offer or to guide them in asking
for concessions, requesting additional inspections, etc.
Once they are under contract, they are completely dependent upon the
listing agent to see that the paperwork is in order and all conditions
have been met.
All experienced agents know that there are periods of drama in a
transaction. Title reports reveal issues that can delay closings,
inspections reveal repair issues to be negotiated, and pre-closing
walk-throughs reveal unexpected problems that should be handled prior
Experienced agents know how to navigate these rough waters. It’s
doubtful that on-line instructions can do the same for unrepresented
But that’s not the only problem for unrepresented buyers…
With no agent on hand to assist in the home shopping process, buyers
are at a huge disadvantage.
A dedicated buyer’s agent will listen to the buyer’s wants and
requirements, then search using both the agent remarks in MLS and
their own first-hand knowledge of the homes and the neighborhoods.
They know if a home is over priced and will advise their buyers
They can help a buyer choose a neighborhood that will put them close
to work, school, health services, and/or recreational venues that
matter in their lives. They can alert them to changes coming in the
area that could increase or decrease the value of a house they’re
They can help a buyer see past bad photographs, a messy house, or
cosmetic imperfections to find a true bargain. They can also help that
buyer spot potential trouble-spots in a house that’s been perfectly
staged and presented.
Once the buyers are under contract, their agent will stay on top of
the transaction, guiding and protecting them.
And they will still be there after the closing – ready to offer
advice and friendship.
You can’t say any of that about a website.