[photopress:int_auction.jpg,thumb,alignright]I was reading Greg’s newest article on Buyer Agent Commissions and thought it might add more information to both his readers and ours, to run a “Point Counter Point” kind of discussion. So I have his article up side by side and will touch on some of the points where I either disagree with Greg, or have something to add.
Greg: “Want to foment a revolution in residential real estate?…(buyers just say) these five simple words: ‘How much do you charge?’…Historically, buyers have not understood that they, too, pay for representation”.
Greg, while the concept is indeed “revolutionary” in one sense, I find that most consumers would like we in the industry, to lead the revolution and win that battle for them, rather than being involved in the process of that change in the industry. Of course here in the Seattle area we have Redfin leading the charge, by revealing that there is a Buyer Agent Fee.
Sometimes Greg and I shake our heads at the shenanigans of the industry that pretend there really is no Buyer Agent Fee. Buy how can Greg expect the buyer consumers to lead this needed change in the industry, when most buyers NEVER even see the fee? Does anyone know a public search site that shows the Buyer Agent fee to the consumer? Does anyone’s mls system print the Buyer Agent Fee on the client version of the property printout? Has anyone seen the Buyer Agent fee show on the Buyer’s Closing Statement when the transaction closes?
How is a buyer supposed to even verify that the agreed upon amount, is what the buyer agent in the end collected? The commission paid to both the Seller’s Agent AND the Buyer’s Agent, only shows on the seller’s closing statement and NOT on the buyer’s closing statement. “Oh, yeah…I charged you ten bucks . You want to SEE it? Oh, sorry, that’s a seller privacy issue. You can’t see the actual fee charged. Just trust me on that ”
I’m not going to go into the “chicken or the egg” debate agents like to play with regard to who “actually” pays the commission, because it truely is purely subtrefuge. I often wonder how they’ve gotten away with it for all of these years, but then we really do know how they’ve gotten away with it for all of these years, don’t we? Because buyers really like the idea that it’s free and don’t want to sign an agreement to the lower amount, because they really don’t want to sign an agreement with an agent at all…even if it does save them money. They want the lower amount with no strings attached. Not saying they are wrong, and I actually honor that. But let’s not pretend this isn’t a two way street.
I don’t like Greg’s answer either, because he makes it looks like the buyer pays the seller’s agent fee too, and that’s just a pendulum swing to the subtrefuge, which doesn’t work either. Seller pays his agent and buyer pays his agent, is the only rational answer, regardless, so each knows the cost for their side and negotiates their side and sees their side at the end.
Greg says: “We baby buyers, (by) telling them tender, loving lies: ‘Buyer representations is free.’ ‘I’m paid by the seller.’ ‘My services cost you nothing.'” Truth is, buyers really do like these lies up to a point. They really do like to believe that is is free and the seller is paying it. Buyers like to “receive money from the agent” like the Redfin cashback. It’s a whole lot more fun to believe that they are “getting back” $20,000 than to understand that they are paying $10,000. They are not really getting back anything, they are financing their cash credit, if they take it in cash or cash credits. To truly save something, they have to negotiate a sale price with the seller and AFTER the fact, reduce the purchase price by the negotiated buyer agent fee difference. Otherwise they are including the full fee and they are paying it with interest for 30 years! They are borrowing it from the lender, not “saving” it.
Greg says: “If you’re buying a new build, the builder may be paying “your” agent a huge commission. You should negotiate to make sure that you receive any funds over a reasonable rate”.
Well, of course, it does NOT only apply to new build. Here’s my comment on new build though. I just got an email while I was writing this that said “$5,000 bonus on last 5 units!” I deleted the email after mentally translating it to say, “We’ll pay you an extra $5,000 if you will help us get rid of the five last dogs that no one seems to want.”
And last but not least, Greg says: “…you will not get to a more reasonable buyer’s agent commission without mastring those five little words: “How much do you charge?” (That question seller’s have known to ask forever because sellers understand that they are hiring a Realtor and it isn’t free – paraphrased).
But Greg does not give any advice regarding what to respond when the agent replies: “What do I charge? Why nothing! It’s Free! The Seller pays it! Greg, if you want them to ask the question, you have have to give them a little more advice than simply asking the question that will initiate the response of free, that we both know many will get. Let’s have a follow up piece titled, “What do you say to a buyer agent who tells you his services are FREE?”