They get you coming and going...
April 20, 2006 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm selling my house myself without an agent. If an agent claiming to be a "buyer's agent" contacts me, tours my house for their client and ends up having their client buy my house, do I have to pay that agent? I didn't solicit their services, so I don't think I should have to pay, but I'm confused about things I've been reading.

I really don't want to shell out 3% to someone just because she's the one who happened to see my house on the FSBO site and not her client. This is the whole point of selling it myself. I want to keep all the money for myself!

Extra points for a nice script of how to say something along the lines of "sorry, no money for you."
posted by SheIsMighty to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
You only have to pay what you agree to pay - just make sure the contract reads what you want. That said, I think a lot of buyer's agents will steer their clients away from you, since the agent would not get paid. Maybe compromise and offer some percentage less than 3%
posted by exogenous at 2:18 PM on April 20, 2006

When a buyer's agent has a client who makes an offer to buy your home, the offer will also ask you to cover the agent's commission - either directly or indirectly. The offer will ask you to either pay the commission directly to the agent and their broker, or apply a "credit" to the buyer so that the buyer can pay the commission. Either way it comes out of the proceeds of your sale.

Whether you pay the commission or not depends on whether you choose to "cooperate" with agents. If you do not, agents will not bring buyers to your house. A three percent commission is customary, but you can attempt to negotiate, too.

My wife and I just bought our first home, and my parents acted as our buyer's agents so that they could cut us a check for the 3% commission, but we did all the leg work finding houses. Several FSBO homeowners told us up front, we are not working with people with buyer's agents.

Finally, the problem that you are going to have with this specific agent and their clients is that the potential home buyers will have signed a contract with that agent stating that they won't buy a home without making sure that the agent gets paid, and if you don't agree to pay commission, then that agent won't get paid. Therefore, they won't be able to buy your house.
Your best bet may be to tell all parties up front that you aren't cooperating with agents, and just try to sell to people who don't have buyer's agents. Someone else probably knows more, but that is my casual understanding. I think that it is all accurate, but I may be mistaking some of the details. More info is here.
posted by ND¢ at 2:25 PM on April 20, 2006

Realtors lose clients to FSBO's all the time. I overheard two realtors bitching about it the other day. My brother-in-law is a realtor, and I know he has lost clients to individuals selling on their own. One time he showed a guy over 20 houses over the course of two months, and then he gets the call from this client, sheepishly telling him that went ahead and bought a FSBO, and that he appreciated all the help.

As I understand it, a realtor would not let their client buy a house from you without taking their cut. Unless they enjoyed volunteering their services to their clients. That being said, as exogenous noted, the commission is negotiable.
posted by brheavy at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2006

We sold our house last year and also decided to forego paying 3% also. Instead, we used a firm that charged a flat fee and they handled all the paperwork and things that you'd expect a real estate agent to handle. In our case we paid $3000 in fees total instead of what would have been over $10,000 in commissions.

There are a number of companies that offer this kind of thing:
as well as others I'm sure.
posted by stevis at 2:30 PM on April 20, 2006

We looked at a couple of houses that were FSBO, and we had a buyer's agent. What was completely reasonable to us was that every seller basically said that their final number will include the agents' fee, so that they (the sellers) would end up with the same amount of money, and we (the buyers) would essentially end up paying the fee.
posted by sauril at 2:30 PM on April 20, 2006

The only customers a FSBO can steal are those who have not signed a contract with their buyer's agent. At least here in NC agents generally will require you to sign before they start showing you houses for that very reason. Nobody wants to work for free.

If you are in a hurry to sell, no reason not to consider buyer's agents. If you want all the money yourself, don't deal with them-but do remember there are a ton of legal pitfalls for folks to fall into when it comes to home sales. Just keeping up with paperwork with mortgage companies, negotiating with appraisers, etc....and depending on your state there are things like termite reports and such that have to be taken care of-you want to make sure you don't leave yourself open to be sued by your buyer if something goes wrong.
posted by konolia at 4:12 PM on April 20, 2006

Oh and be aware that a lot of agents tend to avoid showing houses that are listed by the kinds of companies Stevis lists, for what should be obvious reasons. Again, if a person is in a hurry to download a house, they need to be aware of that. I'd almost rather do fsbo than that.
posted by konolia at 4:15 PM on April 20, 2006

Yeah, if you're in a hurry to sell, then pay the 3% to the buyer's agent.

I also sold my home without an agent. I paid $300 to an MLS listing service, and posted to Craigslist and a couple of other venues.

I purposely priced the home 3% higher than I wanted to get from it. If a buyer came without an agent, I'd tell them that since they came without an agent, I'd give them $6000 off. If they came with an agent, and tried to haggle down the price, I'd explain that their agent was taking $6000, so I couldn't go any lower.
posted by Laen at 4:54 PM on April 20, 2006

It's really easy. Don't worry about it. When a buyer's agent shows up, just tell them that you have no intention of paying them. If they (the agent) want to get paid, they'll need to get paid from their client. Likewise, tell the client, "hey, if you wanna use an agent, that's cool with me, buy you're going to have to pay them out of pocket; I don't want an agent or I'd pick my own."

It'll all work out. You'll get an offer 3% less than they'd normally give you since they have to pay their agent and you'll think about it.

Additionally, what you should be prepared for is something like this: They want to offer you what you're asking but for some reason they want you to pay the agent's fee, but they are willing to pay you 3% more than your asking price so that really they'll be paying the fee. If I were you, I'd take the deal as there are tax benefits to "having" to pay someone to sell the house and 'cause I cannot see a reason why it would be bad for you and am sure there are some insane reasons why they'd think it was good for them. I don't know if this'll happen, just be ready for strange stuff like this.
posted by pwb503 at 7:50 PM on April 20, 2006

It's pretty much all been said, but I'll add my bit - just make it very clear to anybody using an agent that you fully expect their offer to take into account the agent's fee, and that THEY are the one that chose to use an agent, not you, so THEY should be prepared to pay his/her fee.
posted by antifuse at 12:56 AM on April 21, 2006

When we went looking for our house, we used a buyers agent. This may vary from situation to situation but in our case, "buyers agent" meant "employed by the buyer". *We* paid her fee, which we negotiated with her. If the owner of the house or sellers agent was offering a fee, WE got it. This to me is the true definition of a buyers agent, they work for you. Anyone who is getting paid by the seller is not working for you.

I tried to look it up in wikipedia but no luck, it just redirected me to "real estate agent". Looking on google, it appears that what I had was an "exclusive buyers agent" which maybe is not the same thing is a plain "buyers agent"

For those of you buying a house, I recommend it. There is no possibility for conflict of interest.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:32 AM on April 21, 2006

1. Ask your real estate lawyer this question.
2. Read the contract.
3. Have your lawyer read the contract.

Seriously, a few hundred dollars for your lawyer can save you much heartache and money in a situation like this.
posted by MrZero at 7:22 AM on April 21, 2006

I don't believe a thing real estate agents say. I don't hate them just the tricky and unexperienced ones. Which in my opinion is most of them. Take the "no obligation market evaluation" for example, the oldest and most unoriginal term you will see advertised. Do they think people are stupid? The real definition should be, “yes I will come over to your home, tell you what it’s worth, then I will bug the hell out of you until you list it with me". In the meantime, they will send you some “awesome” fridge magnets, calendars and pencils just so you don’t them. I have written at length about this, I'm NOT selling anything, just a frank, real world discussion.
posted by fsbohomz at 11:09 AM on October 15, 2006

« Older Where's a gallery of Google's logos?   |   recover mising hard drive files Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.