Frequently Asked Questions by Home Buyers

Congratulations, you found us on the Web. Along with 90% of buyers, you have started your home search online. Here is a list of common questions and answers.

What services do you provide?

We oversee the entire process from start to finish. Although many people pride themselves on being savvy, very few have processes set up to manage the multiple and changing risks that present in the course of a property transaction. Our multi-stage approach is time tested to minimize or eliminate risks in many cases before they even present. Here are some of the areas we actively manage for the best buyer outcome:

  • Property valuation
  • Location and market analysis
  • Pricing metrics
  • Construction quality assessment and inspection management
  • Contract negotiation
  • Transaction coordination
  • Closing management.

Credentials: 

- (John) Honors Bachelor of Commerce four year undergraduate business and law degree plus two year Masters Degree in Strategy and Competition from UCC, National University of Ireland.
- Over twenty years experience in construction, contract negotiation, real estate investment and technology.
- Licensed Managing Broker by State of Washington.
- Member of the Northwest MLS (professional real estate association).
- Member of the National Association of Realtors and Seattle King County Realtors.
- Member of the Northwest Independent Brokers Association.
- Owner of John Manning Properties since 2008.

How much does a buyer’s agent cost?

The cost to have both Amy and John both dedicated to your home search is zero as the buyer’s agent shares the listing agent’s commission. Our company provides two Managing Brokers for every transaction. 

Our services are free to the buyer except in the unlikely scenario there is another agreement. The seller sets a sales commission and it is paid to the seller’s agent. If the buyer has no agent, the seller’s agent retains the entire commission. If the buyer has an agent, the seller’s agent splits their commission with the buyer’s agent.

If I don’t have an agent, can I ask for a price reduction of the buyer agent commission amount?

Almost never. The commission is negotiated between seller and their agent. Whether the buyer has an agent or not, the seller’s agent is paid the same. When an unrepresented buyer contracts a home, the commission amount paid does not change, the listing agent simply retains both sides of the commission as they have to assume the burden of liability normally assumed by the buyer's agent. 

Transactions without a buyer’s agent are much riskier for the seller as the buyer has no professional representation and typically has no training or support in the complex area of real estate law. This regularly causes sellers to choose other offers rather than take the uncertainty of an amateur buyer. In a competitive market, not having an agent can cause an offer to be set aside in favor of an offer that operates within the guidelines of the profession.

Can the buyer’s and seller’s agents be the same person?

In theory yes, this is called dual agency. As a rule, we do not engage in dual agency as it is impossible to properly represent both sides of a negotiation.

Do I need an agent? I can find listings online.

The value of an agent is not in finding listings. Realtor value lies almost entirely in market intelligence, property valuation and contract expertise. Consider that almost without exception, builders, investors and multi-million dollar buyers all use brokers. Experienced buyers will insist on their broker’s involvement even for “for sale by owner” (FSBO) properties as the risks far outweigh the cost of representation. Statistically, buyers without agents pay more, are subject to increased omissions and disclosure failures and have up to a 30% transaction failure rate.

Are all agents the same?

Definitely not. Picking the wrong agent is worse than having no agent. Check your realtor’s credentials. Are they a managing broker? Broker is the title used for a sales agent requiring nothing more than a high school diploma. Managing broker is a much higher level of professional licensing. Do they have a graduate degree such as an MBA? Have they experience in construction? Have they held senior level positions within companies other than a real estate brokerage? Are they part of a franchise chain? Do they own real estate? Do they have expertise in your local area? Do they generate and provide analytics and valuation data?

What is the difference between a franchise and independent real estate brokerage?

Most brokerages are franchises. Agents are subcontractors to the franchise. There are several downsides to this model. Most brokerages have over 30% turnover of agents per year so the general competence is low. They do not discourage part time agents so people with other jobs can dabble in real estate. Most franchises will have up to one hundred agents under one managing broker making individual review of each transaction the exception rather than the rule. Remember, your agency relationship is not with the agent, it is with the firm. Make sure you select a brokerage that treats every transaction individually rather than in batches.

Can’t the seller’s agent help me buy a house?

Yes however this is highly risky as the seller’s agent has no responsibility to represent the buyer’s interests and may use what the buyer tells them to the seller’s advantage. Seller’s agents will sometimes attempt to “help” buyers without an agent in order to retain the commission payable to the buyer’s agent. This should be avoided as it only benefits the seller’s agent and not the buyer.

The seller’s agent offered to help me with the offer. Is that okay?

As above, the seller’s agent has no duty to the buyer, only to their seller. In this case, the principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) applies. It may be difficult to find a recourse if any issues arise with the structure, possession, title or encumburances.

Do I need a lawyer?

Manning Sedgwick offers legal and title review by our attorney as part of every transaction. You may of course choose your own attorney to provide this also.