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Which is more difficult: being a buyer’s agent or a listing agent?

To be sure, neither the role of Buyers Agent nor the role of Listing Agent is easy. Both have their difficulties and their advantages. However, having worked on both sides of the transaction for over a decade, it’s clear that the Listing Agent has the more difficult task. Best way to find the buyers agent.

Buyers’ agents identify problems; listing agents must resolve them.

Buyers Agents want their clients to be fully informed about the home they are about to purchase. All problems and flaws must be fully disclosed on the table. The big questions for the Buyers Agent are: 1) What’s wrong with this house? and 2) What will the Seller agree to fix? Before the Buyer can make an informed decision, these two questions must be answered. The Buyers Agent hires a home inspector and a termite inspector, and if they discover anything suspicious, additional inspections are scheduled.

The Buyer’s Agent compiles a list of problems and issues discovered during the inspections and submits it to the Listing Agent as a Repair Request. You might believe that the list is sent to the Seller because the Seller is required to respond to it. Normally, no. The Seller usually looks helpless at the Listing Agent. “What do I have to do?” they wonder. The ball has been passed.

Sellers are not necessarily unwilling to make repairs but prefer to do so without spending more money than necessary. That’s completely understandable. At the same time, the Listing Agent understands the importance of getting the job done correctly. If the completed work is not satisfactory to the Buyer, bad things will happen.

“You can have it done quickly, cheaply, or correctly — pick any two,” you’ve probably heard. Unfortunately, that saying holds a lot of truth, and doing repairs for sale is not the time to choose “cheaply.” The work must be completed on time (i.e., before the office closes) and correctly. (or the Buyer may walk). Nevertheless, the Seller still wants to spend as little as possible. As a result, it is up to the Listing Agent to find one or more professionals who can complete the repairs quickly and correctly while still giving the Seller a fair price.

Over time, agents amass a list of reliable service providers, such as contractors, plumbers, structural engineers, landscapers, chimney sweeps, painters, maid services, radon testing labs, concrete driveway repair companies, etc. Access to the list and the agent’s relationships with those on the list are essential components of the Listing Agent’s value to the Seller.

However, having a list is rarely sufficient. Typically, the Seller works all day and cannot return home to meet with repair personnel. The Listing Agent is responsible for representing the Seller during the information-gathering phase. They will contact the repair companies, schedule meetings with them, and then go to the meetings to gather professional opinions and estimates to present to the Seller, along with their recommendations on the best course of action. This all takes time. If the Seller agrees to have work done, the Listing Agent may be called upon again to open the house to allow the repair people access. When a utility company is involved, it can take hours to wait for them to arrive.

When the work is completed, the Listing Agent contacts the Buyer’s Agent so that the Buyer can inspect the work. It’s usually OK because the service providers on the Listing Agent’s list are trustworthy. However, the Listing Agent is forced to scramble when something is overlooked.

I recall a listing I had a few years ago. The FHA appraiser didn’t arrive until a week before closing to do the appraisal, and he told the Seller that peeling paint on the soffits needed to be scraped and repainted. He showed the Seller around the house and pointed out two things that needed to be fixed. This was an FHA requirement, not a repair requested by the Buyer.

Of course, there was no time to waste. I got my painter to leave his job, to come back and take care of our soffits. The FHA appraiser returned ONE DAY BEFORE CLOSING to ensure the work had been completed. “You missed a spot,” he told the Seller. “Three areas needed to be fixed; you only fixed two.”

My Seller was sure that only two locations were mentioned then, and I believe him. He focused on what the appraiser said that day because he knew this issue would halt the closing. But there was no point in arguing; I had to beg the painter again, “Please, you have to come TODAY!” And he came; God bless him.

This exemplifies how the Listing Agent’s relationship with service providers is essential. For example, a Seller may hire a painter once every five or ten years, whereas a Listing Agent may require a painter several times yearly. This provides the agent with leverage when it is needed.

While the Listing Agent is dealing with contractors, gathering estimates, and micromanaging repairs, what is the Buyers Agent doing? None of this is the Buyer’s Agent’s responsibility. They discovered the issues; the Listing Agent is responsible for resolving them. The Buyers Agent can spend the weeks between the contract and closing on vacation in Hawaii!, or on finding three more Buyers.

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