San Diego Real Estate Agency Basics: Read This Before You Start Working with a Buyers' Agent
Most buyers think that because an agent showed them homes or sent them listing emails (or even wrote an offer for them), the agent is working for them. In reality, unless you have hired an Exclusive Buyers Broker, the agent you are dealing with may in fact represent the seller. Let me explain...
There are four main types of real estate agents:
Traditional Agents (Listing Agents, Seller’s Agents)
A traditional agent works for sellers and represents the interests of the seller in a transaction. We call them traditional agents because (prior to the 1980's) real estate agents traditionally only represented sellers, and buyers were simply considered "customers" (not clients). These days, in addition to representing sellers, traditional agents can also work with buyers (as either customers or clients).
How this affects the home buyer:
Some traditional agents make it a practice to work in a non-agency relationship with buyers as customers (meaning that the agent really works for the seller).
Other traditional agents offer to work in a dual agency relationship with both a buyer and a seller in the same transaction. (More on this below.)
Of the thousands of real estate agents in San Diego, most are Traditional Agents.
In San Diego, many real estate agents refer to themselves as buyer's agents, but you can discern a true buyer's agent from a fake one. A true Buyer’s Agent is one who helps the buyer as his/her agent in a transaction in which the buyer’s agent and his/her brokerage does NOT also represent the seller. In this scenario, the Buyer's Agent is able to give 100% loyalty to the buyer in the transaction.
Some Traditional Agents in San Diego market themselves as Buyer’s Agents even though they also list properties for sale (and as a result would be unable to promise 100% loyalty in transactions involving those homes). Other traditional buyer agents work on teams in which the Team Leader works almost exclusively for sellers. These teams typically ask their buyer's agents to promote the team's listings above the others (and these buyer's agents cannot give 100% loyalty to buyers when it comes to the team's listings).
Unless you have already identified a property, and that property is listed by a different agent and a different real estate brokerage (or is unlisted), most San Diego "Buyer’s Agents" cannot promise you 100% loyalty throughout your purchase process.
Some Buyer’s Agents work for companies that do NOT list properties and never represent sellers. (See "Exclusive Buyer's Agent" below)
Exclusive Buyer's Agent
An Exclusive Buyer’s Agent works with buyers only, never takes listings, and never represents sellers. Exclusive Buyer Agents work for real estate brokerages that never list homes and never represent sellers. A home buyer who hires an exclusive buyer agent gets to work with an agent who can commit 100% loyalty to the buyer (and no loyalty to the seller), even before you've identified any potential homes for purchase.
A Dual Agent is a real estate agent or brokerage that works with the buyer and the seller on the same transaction. Neither party receives "full representation". Full representation would include undivided loyalty, complete confidentiality, and full disclosure of all information known to the agent. Rather than representing you and your interests, a dual agent simply facilitates the transaction.
The loyalty of a dual agent (in theory) is neither to the seller nor to the buyer, but to the transaction, doing what they can to get the transaction to close (it should be noted that a dual agent most often earns twice the commission). Dual agency is illegal in California if the real estate agent has not disclosed the dual agency relationship to both buyer and seller (or if either the buyer or seller does not agree to the dual agency relationship).
In addition to these four types of agents, some states also have various forms of non-agency relationships where a buyer may work with a real estate agent, but no agency-level relationship is entered into.
If you are in the process of hiring a San Diego Buyer Agent, I would be honored to meet with you for an interview. Call me at 858-437-2662 or send me an email to get the process started. I look forward to hearing from you!
About Justin Gramm
Justin Gramm is the founder of Globella Buyers Realty and works full time as a San Diego exclusive buyer agent. Exclusive buyer agents never take listings or represent sellers. Exclusive buyer agents represent buyers-only 100% of the time, allowing you to hire a San Diego buyer's broker without the conflict of dual agency. Justin has helped many wonderful people from all over the world buy homes and condos in San Diego over the years. If you'd like to talk to Justin about your potential San Diego home purchase, you are welcome to schedule an interview. Call Justin at 858-437-2662 or send Justin an email to get the process started. More About Justin Gramm