Last week, we surveyed readers for their best objection handlers to buyers when they say: “I only want to work with the listing agent.”
The overwhelming number of responses lead us to a lot of good material, including simple explanations of what listing agents do, giving advice, one-liners and the all-powerful “good luck.”
Here are our favorite responses. Try out the ones you like the next time you come up against this objection (we’re looking at you 26 respondents who answered “I don’t have a good one”).
Use a one-liner
Sometimes, all you need is a sentence or two to get the job done. Short, sweet and to the point, here are some of the simple effective quips agents use:
- Why would you give the listing agent the control to negotiate your terms and price?
That can be a good strategy if you are comfortable with that agent’s willingness to be impartial and to treat you, a stranger, as an equal of the seller whom he or she has represented for some period of time.
- Would you hire the lawyer who sits on the other side of the courtroom to represent you?
Why would you work with the listing agent? He or she is working for the seller not for you.
- Yes, the sellers would love you to do that. Think about it.
The listing agent is hired to represent the seller and their best interests, not yours. If you’d like a professional on your side then that’s where I come in.
You don’t want 100 percent representation?
Do you like providing the best terms for the seller?
Let me ask you, would you go to court without an attorney?
You will miss out on other properties — possibly the best properties for you — just because they are not currently listed by the listing agent of the property that you located on your own.
Who do you think will be in your corner?
It’s true that the listing agent has a lot of information about the property at the top of their head, but keep in mind that the agent wants the highest price for his or her seller, and I want the lowest price for you.
Do you want someone who is dedicated to work for you or someone who has split alliances?
Do you think the listing agent would be unbiased and have your best interests at heart?
Sometimes you have to show not tell. Here are a few objection handlers that use outside of the industry examples to relate to buyers. (Clearly, the tried-and-true lawyer metaphor is still being used frequently out in the field, but we tried to find you interesting examples.)
- Going with the listing agent is the same as going to court and having one attorney represent the plaintiff and the defendant. It doesn’t make sense. You don’t have anyone looking out for your best interest. The listing agent’s obligation is first and foremost to the seller not to you, the buyer. Because the listing agent is under contract, he or she is obligated to always look out for the seller’s best interest first.
- How can a person serve two masters? I, as a listing agent, try to get the best (highest) price for sellers, and you’ll want me as a buyer’s agent to get you the best (lowest) price.
- Let me ask you this, if you were getting a divorce, would you want the same divorce attorney representing both of you? Do you think it might be hard to represent you both impartially? That’s like if you use the listing agent to represent both the seller and the buyer — the listing agent can’t represent you both impartially and with fiduciary duty. Wouldn’t it be better to have someone on your team, fighting for your interests — and the listing agent pays them to do it? Would it be crazy to think you wouldn’t want free representation by an experienced agent like me? Great, let’s sign this representation agreement, so I can start working for you today.
Lay out the situation
Many a times buyers go into it thinking they’ll get a better deal, either from insider information or a shaved commission. But they fail to realize the implication of using one agent for both ends of the deal.
The listing agent has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller. The buyer pays no fees for the services of a good buyer’s agent who will work in your best interest researching and negotiating price, navigating through inspections, appraisals, financing, timelines that protect you, the buyer.
Is that because you expect to receive a discount on the home price? The listing agent already has a contract signed by the seller agreeing to pay x percent regardless of whether there is one agent involved or two. Why would the listing agent give up half the listing commission to benefit you, someone he or she does not know? Even if you choose to be unrepresented, the listing agent still gets paid. To work with the listing agent is not a benefit to you because the listing agent gets paid no matter what, and you are either represented by the same agent who is looking out for the best interests of the seller, or you are not represented at all. Not a win for you.
I understand, working with the listing agent might result in a lower brokerage fee that might result in a lower purchase price. But consider that it might be a 1-2 percent max savings on price and might ultimately cost to you. Let’s explore: The listing agent will not dually be a buyer’s agent with your best interests at heart. The listing agent will not be under any obligation, like a buyer’s agent would, to explore the right price, advise you along the way with terms of sale and inspection companies, review zoning and bylaw issues, help make mortgage company choices and handle other issues that come up during the sale that would be to your advantage. In the end, the little cost savings you might save on commission could be out weighed by the loss of not making the right choices along the way.
Would it help to know the listing agent is contractually obligated to get the highest price possible for the seller? See I only work for you; and you don’t pay me for that. I am only then obligated to work on your behalf. If you are like many people, you believe that you will get a “better deal” because somehow the seller won’t pay as much commission if you bypass a buyer’s agent. But the commission is already locked in by contract, and you won’t save any money; however, the listing agent might make more money, but you won’t have anyone working only on your side. If I could guarantee I’d be working exclusively for you in this transaction, are you open to giving me a shot?
If you would work with the listing agent, he or she will be a dual agent, which means he or she will have “tape” over their mouth. The listing agent will not be able to advocate for you because he or she can’t get you the lowest price while trying to get the seller the highest price.
(If the buyers think it’s because they will get inside info on what the whether the seller might be willing to take less than asking price:) Even if the listing agent would disclose the seller’s price and unethically breach his or her fiduciary duty to the seller, how will you know for sure if they are telling you the truth. If the agent is willing to breach their duty to the seller, what makes you think they will be truthful to you. They could make you feel as though you’re getting the special deal, but really, you’re not. Maybe the property is worth less than what you end up paying. Is that agent looking out for you or themselves? When an agent double ends a deal, the person who benefits the most is not necessarily the seller or the buyer; it’s usually the agent who now receives commission for both sides. Even if they reduce a portion of their commission, most likely it’s not a large enough amount to offset a price reduction. Also to avoid losing both commissions and keep the deal together, they might not be as forth coming with disclosure or investigative suggestions that might otherwise result in killing the deal. It’s always better to have someone representing only you and looking out for your best interest. If it turns out there is something wrong with the property or the price doesn’t coincide with the current market value, your own buyer’s agent knows to help you move on to another property purchase. If the listing agent knows you only want to work with them because they are the listing agent, they don’t have that option.
Showcase your value
Buyers might not see the value in having a house hunter or door opener, but let’s be honest, we all know that buyer’s agents do way more than that, and it’s your mission to get that message across.
The listing agent works for the seller and will consistently elevate the seller’s interests over yours. I am in this industry day in and day out, and I have the wealth of knowledge to protect the buyer’s interests, save you money and keep you from getting ripped off. But if you think you know everything about real estate more than the professionals in the industry, go ahead and take a crack with the listing agent, but you’ll never really know if you got a good deal or not.
There is more than just price making a “good deal.” A strong buyer’s agent can let you know history of property and any other info that could affect value, and many times you will get a better “deal” once you have a strong negotiator and someone looking at all the angles.
The listing agent’s fiduciary responsibility is only to the seller. He or she is hired to get the seller the highest price in the shortest amount of time. The agency disclosure insures this. As a buyer’s agent, I am hired to provide undivided loyalty to you to get you the best price and terms.
I understand why you may think that’s a good idea, but buying a home is likely the most expensive financial transaction you will ever make. How could you do that without having someone representing your best interests? I sell homes every day and have seen every problem that can come up, if a problem comes up the listing broker is going to deal with it to the seller’s advantage.
Ask the obvious
Sometimes you have to allow the buyers to come to their own conclusions, but you can lead the way.
Perfect! That agent represents only the seller, kind of like sharing your ex’s divorce lawyer. How well do you think things will go for you?
What if they are related to the seller? Wouldn’t you prefer someone who has a fiduciary to you?
How do you feel that benefits you?
- That’s kind of like using one lawyer for both sides in a lawsuit. Is there any reason you don’t want somebody who only represents your interests?
Lend a little advice
Rather than dismissing or clapping back, some agents play a longer game.
- Is that because you think you will get the best deal? Great, I have had many of my clients feel the same way. What they have found is when they work with a buyer’s agent who has their sole financial well-being and interests in mind, they have gotten an even better deal than what the listing agent was offering. I would love to buy you a cup of coffee and explain how I offer my clients a world-class homebuying experience. Let’s go!
When I am the listing agent, I will not work with the buyer because it is a conflict of interest. Dual agency is legal (in some states), but only the listing agent benefits. Essentially, the listing agent becomes a mediator and does not represent either party. For you, the buyer, the listing agent cannot complete a CMA and thus cannot tell you the probable sales price or recommend an initial offer. How does that benefit you? The answer is that it doesn’t. As a buyer, it is to your advantage to have your own advocate. I will only represent you. I will fully investigate the property because there is no conflict of interest.
- You have that choice. Before you sign one single page for them, ask them, who they will be representing in the transaction. How will you respond if they say, “both the seller and buyer” or “the seller” or “neither”? Ask for it in writing. (Almost immediately, I’m asked to represent them.)
Many agents find that it’s just not worth their time to try to sway buyers who don’t want to work with them.
- Oh that’s too bad that you don’t want great representation. We’d be happy to help you if you would like, but it is always harder to do it after issues have occurred.
- Good luck.
- That’s fine.
Did we miss anything? If you have a great objection handler for “I only want to work with the listing agent,” please share in the comments below.
Editor’s note: These responses were given anonymously and therefore are not attributed to anyone specifically. Responses were also edited for grammar and clarity. Inman doesn’t endorse any specific method.