At settlement: What to expect of your agent? You just did the final walk through of your home and are now at the settlement table. At walk through you found that the washing machine doesn’t work, and a repair the seller agreed to do has not been done. The seller claims no liability. Is your agent going to back you up, back the seller up - or do nothing? What is the agent’s legal obligation to you? If ‘your’ agent is working for the seller too (a dual agent) they can’t do much. . In case of conflict a dual agent can’t take sides. They are not your advocate though they will try to get you and the seller to come to an agreement and get the deal settled. If your agent is a true buyers’ agent they are your advocate. They will have made sure that documentation of the sellers agreement exists. They will look at the documentation of what was agreed upon point it out to the seller and push the seller to satisfy their obligation. A buyer agent (but not a dual agent) will support your position.
Home Inspection: You just had your home inspection done and there are ‘issues’. (There are always issues.) Is your agent going to back you up, back the seller up - or do nothing. What is the agent’s legal obligation to you? If the agent is working for the seller too (as a dual agent) they can’t do much. In case of conflict a dual agent can’t take sides. They are not your advocate though they will try to get you and the seller to come to an agreement and keep the deal together so they can get their commission.
If your agent is a true buyers’ agent they are your advocate. After the initial price negotiation this is, generally, the most significant negotiation of a real estate transaction. What kind of leverage can the agent use? The contract itself may have imposed legal obligations upon the seller. A typical example: If there is termite activity/damage the seller MUST pay UP TO $1500 toward repair and treatment. If they don’t you have legal recourse -because it is in the contract.
But what if it is something else - What if the electric service panel box is defective and unsafe and needs to be replaced? The contract may give you the right to walk away but a standard inspection provision doesn’t REQUIRE the seller to do anything. Will you walk away? Does the seller THINK you may walk away? Sometimes the seller is just a decent person and will do what is fair. Most , though, only care about their bottom line. Your agent’s presentation of the issue matters a great deal. So does preparation. Did your agent help you to have a plan B? Plan B makes walking away less painful for you. The seller is more likely to give if you really do have a plan B. The seller doesn’t want to lose a buyer and start over. If you have a Plan B (a back up house) You may be able to get in contract on another house fairly quickly but the seller doesn’t know how long it will take them to find a buyer.
These are only 2 of the areas that your agent should be your advocate during the transaction but they help to highlight the importance of advocacy. If you are a “sophisticated buyer” and know enough and have enough experience to know what questions to ask and what your rights are - maybe it doesn’t matter. But if you expect to rely on your agent AT ALL - make sure the agent is YOUR agent and has a legal obligation to advocate for you.
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