A while back in the Q & A section of AR a consumer wondered why he could not act as his own buyers agent and get whatever the listing agent was offering to cooperating brokers taken off the price of the home. There were many replies. The questioner himself added a comment later in the answers that said that it should be a piece of cake since the listing agent would write up the contract and other tasks.
First, in most areas (certainly in most of Florida) the seller is paying the commission, so having a buyers agent on your side is going to cost you nothing out-of-pocket. Also, since the listing agreement is between the sellers and the broker/agent, the buyer is not a party to that contract and has no legal claim on the commission. Unless, of course, they are a licensed real estate agent.
If you are going to be your own agent, and the listing agent and sellers agree to this arrangement, then accept all of the responsibilities that this role requires. Do not expect the listing agent to do your work and then let you get the pay. If I were the listing agent, I would have you sign a No Brokerage Relationship form. That means that my only responsibilities to you are: 1. Dealing honestly and fairly, 2. Disclosing all known facts that materially affect the value of the residential property and are not readily observable to the buyer and 3. Accounting for all funds entrusted to the licensee.
For the sellers, I would be working as a Single Agent, which is a fiduciary role. Along with the 3 duties mentioned in the last paragraph, my obligations for the seller would be loyalty; confidentiality; obedience; using skill, care, and diligence; and presenting all offers. In other words I will be on the sellers' side 100% and you will be on your own. So do not expect me to write up the offer. That is the job of the buyers agent. If there are terms that you mistakenly put in the purchase agreement that benefit my seller, it is not my job to correct them for you. For example, if you mark that the seller will choose the title agent, but then mark that the buyer will pay for the title policy, why would I tell my seller to change it? Your error just saved him a few thousand dollars! Maybe more than that commission that you are trying to get for yourself. And that is just one minor error. There are many others that you could make.
Do not expect me to run to the zoning office for you to gather information pertinent to the sale. That is the buyers agent's job. It is also that agent's job to coordinate inspections, surveys, appraisals, getting deed restrictions, and much more. Are you going to be able to handle all of that?
If you let it slip that you will increase your offer by $10,000 at some future point in negotiations, I do not have to keep that a secret from the seller. A buyers agent would have to, but remember, you are acting as the buyers agent and I am completely on the side of the seller and must keep his best interests foremost.
Do you have the education, skills, and experience to handle all of that? If not, then please do not try to make a grab for a commission that licensed agents work hard to earn. You will likely be taking a big chance concerning a very important investment just to save some money that will matter very little in the long run.
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida