Buying a New Home?  Can Buyer and Seller Use the Same Realtor?

Graphic showing the difference in a Listing Agent and an Exclusive Buyer's Agent
In What World Can the Same Agent get you the Lowest Price while getting the Highest Price for the Seller?

So you’re Buying a New Home?  I want to talk with you about the legalities that most people don’t even think about.  Yes, buying a home is fun – but always remember to make sure you’re covered legally with the best representation possible.  For instance, when you see a new ‘For Sale sign in a yard, are you tempted to call the agent on that sign to show you the house?

Or have you done your homework and know that the agent on that sign has a legal and binding contract with the owner?  To sell their house for the most money on the best terms? That listing agent is most likely a wonderful agent – but that agent already has a client – and it’s not you!  The seller is legally their client!  Real estate agency laws are very specific about the fiduciary duties the agent owes their clients.  This article is written to help you be aware of and have the best possible representation available.

 Funny how one word can have such different meanings. Both the buyer and the seller want the same thing…THE BEST PRICE!   BUT, those words have an entirely different meaning to each of them. To the seller the ‘highest price’ is the best price…but to you as the buyer the ‘lowest price’ is the best price.  

Cartoon depicting conflict of interest when buying a new home.

Unbelievably,  the State of Tennessee actually allows the same agent to work both sides of the transaction.  Why?  I don’t know.  But here’s the deal…when they’re working both sides, they can’t work either side?  Confused yet?  I’ll try to explain.

When an agent signs a listing agreement, they are the seller’s agent at that point.  BUT, what if a buyer calls them, looks at the house, and ends up wanting to buy it?  At that point, the agent has a problem.  That agent has to have both the seller and the buyer sign a disclosure form that allows him/her to have a new role…a facilitator!

Being a facilitator means that they can no longer represent either side – but only take care of the paperwork.  They can’t advise either party on anything.  Actually, these days most signatures are digital – so it’s just a matter of clicking through the entire document.  It’s fast and easy, isn’t it?  Most people click without reading.

Dual Agency Real Estate Definition

Dual agency is when a single real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction.  This is a direct conflict of interest!  Take a look at these screenshots from a real estate contract:

Here is a screenshot from the TN Real Estate Commission Listing Agreement:

Excerpt from the TN Real Estate Commission Manual regarding Facilitator status.
It Always Pays to Read the Fine Print!

And here is a screenshot from the TN Real Estate Commission Agency Agreement:

Screenshot from TN Real Estate Agency Agreement


Pam Rumley - Exclusive Buyer's Agent
My motto! I believe that well done is always better than well said. As an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent, I never try to sell you anything – but only help you find exactly what you are looking for! How may I help you today? I’m just a phone call away…. 615-428-8500

Buyer’s Agent for New Construction?

Yes, definitely!  When  you walk into a model home, the agent there is very helpful and knowledgeable – but make no mistake – he/she is working for the builder.  You need someone there to represent you and your best interests.  For all the reasons you are reading in this article.

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Exclusive Buyer’s Agent Advantage

My job is not just helping you find a house to buy – but I help you buy the house that you want.  I consider myself a project manager and consultant – not a salesperson. Most people these days find homes on websites like Zillow and  People tell me which homes they want to see.  Buying a New Home is a complicated process and I’m here to manage it for you.  I’m on your side 100%!

What can you expect from working with me as an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent?  I do the following when you’re buying a new home:

  • Discuss your wants, needs, timeline, and expectations.
  • Send automatic listings as soon as they hit the market.
  • Work with you to obtain mortgage financing.
  • When you find a property that interests you:  I provide property condition disclosures, flood maps, crime maps, what the home should sell for, etc.  Any and all information I can find.
  • Set an appointment to view the home.  When walking through, I point out any red flags that I see.  (I’ve built 4 homes, so I know a bit about things to look for).  If you are out of state, I preview the home for you and give you my most honest opinion of what  I find.
  • Research the latest sales in the area and provide comparables to arrive at a good offer price.
  • Negotiate the best deal that I possibly can for you.  Both price and terms.
  • I always ask for the seller to provide a 1-year home warranty for you.
  • Once we have a signed contract, I provide you with the names of good home inspectors (or you can choose your own).  I attend the home inspection either with you or on your behalf if you can’t be there.  Then negotiate for you to get as many repairs done as possible.  This focus is on structural and/or safety issues.  A radon test is good to add to the home inspection.  I also order a termite letter for you.
  • I work with the closing attorney to ensure that they have all the paperwork they need.
  • Before closing, we will do a final walk-through of the home to make sure it is in the same or better condition than when you did the inspection.  We make sure all the repairs have been completed to your satisfaction.
  • I attend the closing with you – making sure the terms of the contract have been met and make sure you receive keys, remotes, etc
[su_testimonial name=”Ray & Laurie” photo=”” company=”Accent Properties” url=””]”In our opinion, there is absolutely no reason to ever look for a home without an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent. As a matter of fact, after this experience I wonder why anyone would ever do it any other way except that they, like we were in the past…just unaware. Thank you, Pam!”[/su_testimonial]

There’s one more thing I do that is never seen.  Most agencies these days charge a ‘transaction fee’ of $200-$500 to the client.  I’ve never been quite sure as to what this fee is for – nor have I agreed with it.  So, my final gift to you is that you will never see this ‘fee’ on your closing statement!!

Am I Qualified to Help You?

The real estate business requires a lot of continuing education to keep a license.  Actually, I’ve had my license so long that I’m ‘grandfathered-in’ when it comes to these classes.  I don’t have to take them!  But, I want to learn and be the best agent that I possibly can be.  I hold several real estate designations.  Here’s the proof:

Senior people in a real estate classroom
I spend many hours in classrooms to obtain the knowledge so I can better serve You!
  • CRS – Certified Real Estate Specialist
  • GRI – Graduate Realtor Institute
  • ABR – Accredited Buyer Representative
  • SRES – Senior Real Estate Specialist
  • SFR – Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource
  • e-PRO – Internet Technology Professional

So, yes, I am well qualified to help you with your new home transaction.  Want to know more about me?

Many people enjoy reading my informative article, “Homebuyer Questions – 25 Ways to Boost Your Confidence”

Buying a Home Help!

Yes, there is help for buying a home.  It’s called hiring an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent to help you!  They are few and far between, but it pays to look for one.  Am I saying ‘buyer’s agent’?  NO!  There’s a huge difference.

Any agent can call themselves a ‘buyer’s agent’ if they are working with the buyer.  A principal broker can actually designate them to be a buyer’s agent.  But, that means that both the listing agent and buyer’s agent are most likely in the same office.

There’s a lot of talk in real estate offices and sometimes an agent on the other side can overhear a conversation that would be detrimental to the buyer.  And many times, an agent gets paid a ‘bonus’ for selling an in-house listing.  Or showing them one of the agent’s own listings?  Incentive, wouldn’t you say?  Buying a New Home?  Always do your homework!!  “But, you don’t understand…my best friend is a Realtor.  I would feel bad if I didn’t call her.”  It’s true, best friends are great to have.  But, it’s like family – not wise to get them mixed up in financial matters.  Hard feelings happen – so keep your friends and explain to them why you’re hiring an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent for your new home purchase.

How is an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent different?  The main difference is that they don’t take listings.  I work in affiliation with NAEBA (National Association of Exclusive Buyer’s Agents), and I had to sign an agreement with them that I wouldn’t take listings – nor would I work for a company that takes listings.  Folks, that narrows down the options really fast.

So, I have my own small company and work strictly with home buyers.  I don’t have the stress of an ulterior motive or incentive to show or sell any particular property.  My goal is to help you find exactly the home you’re looking for and then guide and help you through the entire process.

Buying a New Home Hidden Costs

There’s more involved than just the price of the property.  There are a ton of hidden costs that you should consider when buying a new home.  Here are a few:

  • First thing – you’ll have to make an earnest money deposit.  The amount varies.  This will be credited to you at closing, but can be forfeited if you change your mind about buying the house.
  • Appraisal fee – This must be paid to the lender and is not refundable.
  • Home inspection fee – This is paid at the time of inspection and is not refundable.
  • Termite inspection fee – Also not refundable
  • Closing costs (paid at closing) can include:
    Green arrow pointing to hidden fees
    Always Put a Pencil to the Hidden Fees.
    • Attorney closing fees
    • State recording fees
    • Loan origination fees
    • Document prep fees
    • Realtor transaction fee
    • Title Insurance & Policy (this can be negotiated with the seller)
    • Escrow set-up costs – Equal to one (1) year of homeowners insurance and taxes plus several months of each to set up the account.
    • HOA transfer fees
    • Home warranty (this can be negotiated with the seller)
    • Mortgage Insurance Premiums – FHA has a one-time fee plus monthly for loans under 80% loan to value.  Other programs will vary
    • VA Funding fee – if you choose a VA loan – this can be considerable.
  • If you decide to build a new home – there are impact fees, building permits, etc.  Costs in each county will vary.
  • Moving costs – Will you hire a moving company or do-it-yourself?

Then once you close and move in, there are more things to consider:

  • Window coverings – Will you need mini blinds or draperies?
  • Appliances – Did the seller leave the refrigerator or washer/dryer?
  • Will the house need any cosmetic work?
  • Will you have to install a fence?
  • Setting up internet/TV service?
  • Any utility deposits?
  • Moving out of state?  New vehicle registration, tags, and license fees?

Buyer Agency Agreement

Why do we have a buyer agency agreement?  Because it’s the law!  I wouldn’t want an auditor to come into my office and ask to see these documents if I couldn’t produce them.  And, yes, auditors do ask for these signed documents.  Hefty fines are involved if they are not there.  But, they truly do protect both the buyer and the agent.

The buyer agency agreement (which is prepared by the State of Tennessee…not the agent) stipulates the following:

  • What is expected of both parties – buyer and agent.
  • Duration of the agreement – usually 90 days
  • Carryover in the event buyer buys a house from another agent – that was shown by this agent – usually 90 days
  • What the buyer is looking for
  • Where the agent is to look to find the property
  • Monetary amount in case the buyer defaults.
  • Duties of the agent
  • Remedies in the event either party wants to cancel.

This document simply spells out the terms to avoid misunderstandings.

The biggest problem most buyers have with the document is the monetary clause, which is understandable.  So, here is my guarantee…if at any time you are not happy with my services, I will happily release you from the agreement and you will be free to use another agent.  The only thing that will stay in place would be the carryover clause.

Please put yourself in my shoes.  It takes a lot of work to find homes, set appointments, show property (sometimes 10-12 in a day).  There are document preparations, attending home inspections, meeting appraisers, and responsibility for homes I’m showing to people.  Sometimes I get calls asking about missing drugs from the medicine cabinets, or missing valuables, muddy footprints on the carpets, or doors being left unlocked or something damaged.  I have to answer for all these things.

Cartoon of a tired Realtor
A Realtor has to be Good at Juggling!

Then there are costs involved for my car and its maintenance, liability insurance and my time working 12-14 hours a day.  Priced websites and their maintenance lately?

And don’t even ask about the dues.  National dues, state dues, local board dues, MLS fees, errors and omissions insurance, license fees….on and on.  Do you know that I have to pay a “Professional Privilege Tax” every year for the privilege of working?  Wonder who thought that one up?

If you go to work, don’t you expect to be paid at the end of the week?  It’s no different with me.  I work hard and have bills to be paid just as you do.  I just don’t have an employer to fall back on.

But all this being said, I would never hold anyone to a contract if they were not happy with my service.  That would cause tension on all sides, and life’s too short for hassles like that.  My goal is for you to have a happy, successful transaction for a home you will live in for many years.

Who Pays for Real Estate Commission?

Last, but certainly not least is the question about the commission.  I’ll explain.

The real estate commission fee is set when the listing agent takes the listing on behalf of their broker.   This amount is set by the individual brokerage.  When we, as agents, participate in the local MLS, it is agreed that the commission will be split.  So, basically, my service to you is FREE!  With no additional money out of your pocket.  I’m paid at closing by the listing brokerage.  So, why would anyone not want to use the services of an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent?

Buying a New Home?  It’s an emotional experience.  It can be stressful and overwhelming without someone to guide you through the process.  I’m your advocate for this journey – protecting your interests and proactively managing all aspects of the transaction on your behalf.  You deserve peace of mind during this important life event.  Let me know how I can help you today!   I invite you to call my private line at 615-428-8500.  I’ll look forward to hearing from you…






Buying a New Home?

Article explores reasons why it's important to know about real estate agency relationships.

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