Are There Advantages To Purchasing A Home Directly Through The Listing Broker?
Many people believe there are! When we list a property for sale, we are always surprised by the number of phone calls we receive directly from the public inquiring about it. The first question we always ask is: “Are you working with a broker?”
If their answer is yes, we politely ask them to have their broker contact us, because it is their broker who will be representing them and looking out for their best interests. As the listing broker, we have a fiduciary duty to protect the best interests of our seller above all else. Therefore, acting on behalf of a buyer who is not represented by their own broker can be a potential conflict of interest. This is often referred to as dual agency, and it is when a real estate broker represents two or more clients with competing interests in the same transaction. Some provinces, such as British Columbia, have passed laws prohibiting this practice.
As long as dual agency is permitted in Quebec, we have an obligation to manage these situations in a way that minimizes potential conflicts of interest. Because we work as a team, we have a system in place that allows us to assign different brokers to different clients with competing interests in the same property. For example, one of us represents the seller (and only the seller) while another team member looks after any potential buyers who come to us without their own broker.
Representing a buyer is no easy task. The first step is to qualify them to see if they are pre-approved for a mortgage or have the necessary funds to purchase the property. Once we know they’re qualified, a member of our team shows them the property and reviews all the relevant documentation and information with them. If they show an interest and wish to write an offer, we guide them through that process to help them make the most informed decisions.
Many buyers who choose to work without a broker do so because they believe they stand to gain an advantage by going directly to the listing broker. Here are a few common misconceptions that we would like to address:
1) They believe they are going to get a deal! They think that the listing broker will reduce their commission in order to “double end” the transaction and the seller will therefore accept a lower price.
2) They believe they will get insider information or benefit from favourable treatment in a multiple-offer situation.
Let’s deconstruct each of these common “myths.”
1) Getting a deal. In today’s market, the overwhelming majority of listed homes are attracting multiple offers. Most buyers aren’t aware that a listing broker is not allowed to reduce their commission in any multiple-offer situation involving another broker. This is because it violates unfair competition laws under the Real Estate Brokerage Act. For example, if two identical competing offers were presented to a seller—one from another broker, and one from the listing broker—and the listing broker agreed to reduce their commission if the seller accepted their offer, this would create an unfair advantage over the other buyer and their broker. This practice is therefore prohibited, so it eliminates the potential “deal” a buyer might think they’re getting in a multiple-offer situation.
In a non-multiple-offer situation, where a broker is allowed to reduce their commission, the question to ask is, “who is benefiting?” Does the buyer actually end up paying less for the home than they would if they were working with their own broker? Or is the seller and their broker simply netting more in their pockets at the end of the day?
2) Insider information and favourable treatment. It’s important to note that brokers must respect a very strict code of ethics, and must protect the confidentiality of all parties involved in an offer. Therefore, a listing broker cannot share any details regarding other offers with any other competing buyers, including those not represented by their own broker. Of course, there are always going to be brokers out there who might be willing to break these rules, but how trustworthy are they? Sure, they might give you a clue as to how much higher your price needs to be in order to get your offer accepted… but what if they pushed you $30,000 higher than you needed to go, just to help their seller meet their objectives, or to put a little more money in their own pocket? You’d never know!
Team Broady strongly recommends that buyers work with their own broker. In fact, we encourage all potential buyers to do some research, and meet with at least two local realtors who are active in the areas where they wish to buy before deciding who they want to work with. Asking friends, co-workers, or family members for a referral is often a great way to get started. If you’re interested in meeting with a member of our team, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 514-613-2988, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.