Active Rain August 8, 2011

Buyers: Don’t Let Your Agent Practice Back Door Due Diligence

Nice House in Cold Spring NYI have blogged before on how some buyer agents approach the listing agent with questions that are best addressed by other sources. For example, a  few years ago I had a buyer’s agent assistant ask me a battery of questions on the legality of a hypothetical addition to a home I had listed. I was, in essence, being asked to answer questions best answered by the building department. 

This is wrong. Buyer agents should, whenever possible, verify listing information from primary sources, such as town hall or the homeowner association. The listing agent should not do their job for them. It’s like getting a second opinion from the first opinion. 

This is not to say that buyer agents are dissuaded from asking questions; quite the contrary. Buyers can ask whatever they wish, and we in the sales industry love questions because they have long been held as a sign of interest. The buyer agent simply needs to distinguish what question is best posed to the listing agent and what question should be answered from other, more primary sources. The litmus test is simply whether or not the listing agent will know the answer right off, or if they have to go to a 3rd party. If a 3rd party is needed, the buyer agent needs to go there on behalf of their client. 

Today, for example, an agent emailed me 2 questions about a condo I have listed in Chappaqua: the first was the date of the furnace installation, and the second was as to what the homeowner association fees covered. Obviously, the furnace is best answered by the seller client. I can handle that just fine. The HOA fees are another matter. That agent needs to ask the management company for that information because that is where I would go for the very same answer. 

I work with buyers to this day. And I know personally that when a buyer asks a question, they don’t want me to simply be a carrier pigeon and ask the listing agent when I could get the answer from the horse’s mouth at the town hall, county records, homeowner association or even a lender (FHA eligible anyone?). Buyer agents cannot simply unlock doors and parrot inquiries. Their job as the buyers advocate is not to get answers- it is to get accurate answers. And from my position as a listing agent, it is wrong to ask someone else to do your homework for you. That is back door due diligence, and it is not the best advocacy for people about to make the biggest purchase of their life. 

If the question is best answered by someone other than the seller or listing agent, then the buyer agent needs to walk into the front door of that other source on behalf of their client.