Understanding Key Elements of Seller Representation
At one time, before the 1990's, the sellers in a transaction were represented by all the agents in a transaction, and buyers across the country were completely on their own. This is no longer an advantage that sellers can count on. Most buyers have their own agents representing them, many of which are skilled negotiators. A seller that doesn't have an agent with strong negotiating skills can lose a lot of money.
The seller's agent has a lot of responsibilities. Before the property goes on the market, the agent needs to counsel the seller on how to get their house ready, how to behave around buyers and what steps they need to take to prepare to sell. Then as soon as the house is on the market, the agent must begin marketing to buyers and other agents. The level of marketing varies from agent to agent, so the seller should make sure they work with someone who is going to make an extensive marketing effort.
During both the marketing stage and the negotiation stage, the agent has to be careful not to give away any of the seller's bargaining positions. A seemingly innocent statement could cost a seller a lot of money. I've made thousands of dollars extra for clients just by keeping my mouth shut, while the other agent in the transaction spilled the whole recent history of their client, and in the process, let me know that their client was in a desperate bargaining situation.
An important responsibility of the seller's agent (as well as a buyer's agent) is to read over any contract offers carefully, make sure they fully understand everything and to make sure the seller completely understands what they are agreeing to. Failure to carefully examine a contract can have serious consequences. Agents in offices I've worked in have received contracts with Home Inspections that would require sellers to make unlimited repairs. This would mean if the sellers agent allowed their seller to sign that (or worse, if the seller didn't use an agent and missed this), and there was a fifty-thousand dollar problem with the foundation, the seller would be OBLIGATED to fix it.
Once the seller has entered into a contract, the sellers agent has to make sure that all deadlines are met, that every aspect of the transaction is being taken care of and that the buyer and/or buyer's agent is doing everything they are supposed to do. If any problems come up during the transaction, the seller's agent normally has to find a careful balance between having problems decided to the seller's advantage and keeping the buyer in the transaction, but if the seller decides the buyer is not going to be reasonable and the seller wants out, the seller's agent then has to do what they can to get the seller out of the transaction.
The seller's agent has a responsibility to attend the settlement. Most of the time the agent has nothing to do at this point, but if anything goes wrong, the agent becomes very important. Many issues at settlement can be decided in favor of either the buyer or the seller. If the agent is not looking out for their client at settlement (or worse, isn't even there) the client may get burned without ever realizing things could have turned out much better for them.
©Copyright 2007 Douglas R. Barry