In Manhattan, buyers rarely offer their loyalty

Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty LLC

When I was a broker in D.C. , Maryland and Virginia, I refused to search listings, make appointments and load buyers into my car to show them properties unless they signed an exclusive agreement for me to represent them.

Call me arrogant, but I wouldn’t even show them property in one of those three areas, say Washington, if they told me they wanted to work as well with another broker who they already had met in Virginia.

Perhaps you can sympathize with my reasoning. 

Unless a buyer was willing to be loyal to me, I could be stuck working many hours and providing considerable expertise for nada, nothing, zilch.  I would explain that they wouldn’t donate their time to their employers and that I wouldn’t either.  Almost always, my clients understood.  Or went away.

After I moved back to the Big Apple, I was in for a shock: It is not the custom here for buyers to sign agreements with their brokers.  I never asked for one, never, therefore, obtained one and occasionally paid the price for tending to expect the best from individuals.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve often been disappointed, and an article in the Real Deal a while back made clear that such disappointment has less to do with me than with the buyers.  (I’d like to think so anyway.)

According to the monthly publication, more and more agents say buyers with whom they have worked – often for months at a time – are cutting them out of the transaction when it’s time to pay the commission.  Said the Real Deal:

In a declining market, they say, buyers are fixated on paying the lowest price possible, and many think the seller will give them a better deal if they aren’t represented by a broker. Moreover, in a market where buyers expect rock-bottom prices, they’re more likely to be disappointed with a broker’s performance in still-expensive New York City.

Only occasionally will a seller have to pay less of a commission to the listing broker if the buyer is unrepresented and a special provision has been written into the listing contract; it is not the buyer who benefits from that situation.  In any case, it is the broker who benefits (and the seller, if the commission is reduced): He or she doesn’t have to split the commission with the buyer’s representative.

And bear in mind, the listing broker is charged with looking out for the seller’s best interests, not his or her own and certainly not the buyer’s.  (Of course, that commission check is too often the listing broker’s highest priority, to the exclusion of anyone else’s.)

Wouldn’t everyone be better off if the convention here were the same as virtually everywhere else in the country?  I think so.

Posted by

Malcolm Carter

Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker

Senior Vice President

Charles Rutenberg Realty

127 E. 56th Street

New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248

F: 347-438-3201

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Heather Fitzgerald
REALTY WORLD-Harbert Company, Inc. - Greenwood, IN
REALTOR Greenwood Indiana Real Estate

Malcolm, I rarely voice this opinion in writing, only to my biz partner and husband, but there are some liar buyers out there that are disrespectful of time.

Jul 05, 2010 09:31 AM #1
John Franc
John Franc Realtor ABR Vandyk Group - Manahawkin, NJ
Honesty & Integrity in all I do!

It would be so much better for all agents to get a buyer agency signed before working with them.  Don't we all get a listing contract signed as a seller's agent before we work with them.  Otherwise these buyers just call an agent and they pop up and start showing them properties without any signed agency.  We call these agents "POP TART AGENTS"!

Jul 05, 2010 10:07 AM #2
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