Managing your home sale DIY through has a hidden benefit: your listing agent won’t also ask to represent your buyer in the transaction. This arrangement, called “dual agency,” is controversial even within the National Association of Realtors, because it’s a pretty clear conflict of interest. You list your house with an agent to represent your interests as the seller. So how can the very same agent also represent the best interests of the buyer?  SONY DSC

She can’t. That’s the short answer. Dual agency definitely works for the agent, who collects a commission for selling your house and another commission for working with the buyer, purportedly representing her interest. But it’s not good for you because you no longer have an agent completely devoted to your best interests.

This won’t happen with because our business is based on helping sellers, through our network of multiple listing service memberships around the country. We recommend that buyers work with a buyer’s agent committed to their needs, and we recommend that sellers pay the full traditional commission expected by buyer’s agents in their area. (Read more about the potential damage of dual agency in this Realty Times article.)

But what happens when you sell your house through and then the agent who represented the buyer now wants you to sign with her to find your next house?

Ask these questions before signing:

  • Is the agent going to be an ‘exclusive buyer’s agent,” representing only you as the buyer? Is this agent asking you to be the buyer’s half of a ‘dual agency’ arrangement in which she is trying to sell you a house she has listed, and for which she represents the seller? You probably don’t want an agent who is double-dipping commissions and splitting her loyalties. You want someone working for you as the buyer.
  • Is the agent a member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA)? NAEBA members only represent buyers. They don’t list houses. That’s why they are the perfect next step after selling your house through
  • What will the agent expect in terms of commission if you find a house through, or through a ‘for sale by owner’ site or service? If you sign an agreement with an agent to represent you, you will have to pay the agent a commission even if the seller refuses to do so. Usually, you can negotiate the buyer’s agent commission with the home seller – but if you really want the house, and the buyer’s agent is contracted to represent you, you must pay the commission. It’s only fair, of course, to compensate an agent for her work. Just be sure you understand how much, how and when that compensation will be handled before launching into the agreement with the buyer’s agent.