Q: Is it a good or bad idea to have the same real estate agent as my seller’s agent and my buyer’s agent?
A: It depends. There are some efficiencies that weigh in your favor, if you do work with the same agent to sell your existing home and buy your future one, namely:
1. Relationship efficiencies. It’s a lot of work finding an agent that is a good fit for you, in terms of their knowledge, their geographic areas of expertise, their connections with the vendors you need to get your transaction done and their interpersonal communication style. Many buyers and sellers spend a good number of hours collecting referrals, reading blogs, meeting agents at open houses and interviewing agents before they make a decision about which one to work with.
If you work with the same agent on your "buy" and your "sell," you eliminate having to do all these things twice. (And as a side benefit, you’re also very likely to acquire VIP status with that agent, quick-like.)
2. Financial efficiencies. If your agent is uber-competent, strategic and well-versed in all things mortgage, you can actually gain a major advantage by virtue of having him work on both transactions — and by letting him know that you’ll be entrusting both to him upfront.
This empowers the agent to spot and trouble-shoot potential timing issues that may have implications for your mortgage on the buy side, and minimizes the number of cooks in that kitchen compared to bringing another agent in for one transaction.
Additionally, some agents who are handling two transactions for you in a short period of time might be willing to give you some financial rewards for your repeat business. This might come in the form of a lower commission on the listing side, some closing cost or repair credits out of their commission on the buying side, or even helping pay for things they would otherwise ask you to do, like covering some of the costs of staging or preparing your home for sale.
On the other hand, there are at least a couple of reasons you might want to consider working with different agents on your buy and your sell:
3. Some of the best agents may specialize in buying or selling, not both. This is especially true if the agent who is selling your home is a listing specialist, as some of those agents have invested much time, money and effort in setting up an effective marketing machine for getting homes sold, but might not have the time to drive you around every weekend or spend hours and hours on the house hunt with you. In fact, many listing specialists have buyer’s agents on their staffs for just that purpose.
Don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of agents who assist both buyers and sellers, and do both well. But if your agent clearly focuses on one and doesn’t do much of the other, in today’s market, you’d be better off simply asking him to refer you to someone who specializes in the area he doesn’t.
Same goes for if you’re buying or selling in really different geographic areas; sometimes, it can be ideal to have an agent who specializes in the neighborhoods, on both your buy and your sell. And if you’re selling in one town and buying across the river and through the woods, it might be difficult to find one agent who can give you the neighborhood expertise you’re looking for on both transactions.
4. If you don’t like or trust your agent, having a second agent might serve as a check and balance. Of course, my advice is that if you don’t really like and trust your agent, you should probably pick a new one whose advice you can and do trust. But if there’s any reason you feel less than confident in your agent’s ability or advice, or even in his ability to have the bandwidth to handle both of your transactions, it might make sense to at least explore the idea of working with another agent on the other transaction.