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Hiring Buyer's Agent Held Worthwhile

May 24, 1987

Andrew Ko is not alone in his confusion as to who represents the buyer. (May 10). In fact, in the vast majority of cases, the buyer is not represented by any of the agent(s) involved. The agent(s), through the listing arrangement of the seller, and/or through contract with the Multiple Listing Service, are all legally bound to protect the best interests of the seller.

The agent(s) cannot legally disclose to you any confidential information other than the facts materially affecting the value of the property. The agent(s) cannot, legally, tell you if the property is over-priced, that the seller may be willing to accept a lower price than the listed price, or that the seller may accept terms different than those in the listing agreement.

The agent(s) cannot negotiate to get you the best possible deal, nor are they very likely to show you any property that is unlisted (such as for-sale-by-owner and most foreclosure properties), even though it may suit your needs best.

If you, as a buyer, want to be treated with the utmost care, integrity, honesty and loyalty, then you should list yourself, exclusively, as a buyer with a capable broker committed to single-agency practice. This means that you will probably have to make a financial commitment "up front," just as sellers now do.

In most cases, your agent will be able to get the sellers and their agent to reduce the seller's price accordingly (after all they won't have to be paying your broker the money they had previously built into the listing price, will they ?). Together, with the lower price and better terms your agent will probably be able to negotiate from the seller, you will probably find that good representation does not cost, it pays.

The best source for locating an agent pledged to the concept of single agency is The Buyer's Broker Registry, published by Who's Who in Creative Real Estate, P.O. Box 23275, Ventura, Calif. 93002, 805/643-2337. An additional source is the National Council of Exchangors, 716 E. Valley Parkway, Suite 237, Escondido, Calif. 92025, 619/745-1840.

Recent legislation will require that most buyers and sellers be informed in writing, beginning Jan. 1, of the agency relationships between the parties with whom they are dealing in real estate transactions before offers are made or presented.

JOHN BARTA

Los Angeles

Barta is a real estate broker and an attorney.

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