Buyers Agency–the best kept secret
Sellers of homes have never been able to pick up their product and take it to the town square to sell it. Like most commodities, real estate has historically been controlled not by the sellers, but by the middle-men – the sales people. Agents formed the marketplace site, called the Multiple Listing Service, which the sellers needed. With the advent of the internet, that marketplace has become virtual, and this shift in the real estate sales paradigm may make room for that best kept secret in residential real estate-the buyer´s agent.
The Old Days
It has not always been so. Until fairly recently, there were no “buyers agents”. During the early part of the 20th Century, listing agents had exclusive control over their houses. They advertised to find buyers, showed the houses and negotiated the price directly with the potential buyers. Sellers might, on occasion, list with more than one agent and then both had to compete to get an acceptable offer to the sellers in order to get paid for their time and effort.
The Multiple Listing
After WWII, agents got together in their areas and formed professional associations which ran what have become known as Multiple Listing Services. These gave the homes for sale much more exposure and also provided a means for any licensed agent to find, show and sell another agent’s listing for the published commission “split”. These agents, however, still for the most part represented the sellers and were known as “co-operative” agents-that is they were cooperating with the listing agent in getting the house sold and sharing in the commission paid by the seller for that purpose. Their duty was to a seller they may never have met. And that duty was to get the best terms for that seller.
The Open Market
The MLS marketplace system has been the system adopted in most areas of the country, and has been a boon for sellers. It allows the attributes of the homes to be available to large numbers of agents, including, with photos and video voice-overs touting the features of each room. With the seller’s permission, most listings included in the MLS system now are also placed on the popular website Realtor.com and other company-based internet sites. Most recently, agents have been able to pay the MLS a small fee to list all listings on their own websites, which has created some confusion among buyers who think the house is listed with Company A but see it on Company B’s website.