I love buyer agents, don’t get me wrong. Our listing program is dependent upon buyer agents showing and selling our listings. The value of the buyer agent is that they bring the buyer to the deal. From the seller point of view, this service of bringing the buyer is valuable. However, I want to look at the flip side, how valuable is the buyer agent to the actual buyer?
I recently was notified of a lawsuit filed by a buyer against their buyer agent. Basically, the buyer was blaming the buyer agent for not being aware of the boundary lines between two properties. In this instance, the Realtor(R) is citing that she is not responsible for verifying boundary lines. This got me thinking… what does the buyer agent actually do for the buyer? Buyer Agents can not and do not provide legal advice. They can not provide inspection advice as to the condition of a property. They can not provide tax advice. They can not provide advice with regards to surveys, etc… Essentially, they do absolutely nothing with regards to anything that would provide “legal” value to their client. If a buyer has a question, typically the buyer agents job is to refer them to an expert. (whether it be roofing, HVAC, etc..) Realtors(R) are taught to give very bland answers and also refer their client to an expert. Essentially, Realtors(R) are taught to take absolutely no risk at all in a transaction.
As a buyer, I can’t think of any real service the buyer agent provides me that is valuable. With the internet, I have access to all listings myself and I have the sold data from the county recorders office for comparables. Also, as a buyer, if I go straight to the listing broker, I know that I will be able to negotiate a lower price based upon the seller not having to pay a buyer broker fee. (if you negotiate this in your offer)
The concept of accepting a fee for a service without taking any responsibility or liability for the service you provided is quite upsetting to many buyers. It’s just something to think about. This could explain why historically, sellers pay the buyer broker fee….. not the buyer.
If buyers paid the buyer broker fee entirely at close of escrow…. would buyer agents become obsolete?