Double Agent

Kyle McIntosh

MY MOM HAD PLANNED to look for a new home near my wife and me in 2022. In November 2021, I searched to see what was available. I saw a home that looked like a good fit, but its status was listed as “pending.” On a whim, I called the selling agent. It turned out that the house was falling out of escrow. We made an offer.

We didn’t have an agent, so the selling agent offered to represent us. This dual-agent approach is allowed in California. While I was wary of having the seller’s agent also represent us, it ultimately worked in our favor.

The first benefit: Our offer was accepted. That’s no small feat in today’s hot real estate market. Given that the property fell out of escrow once, the seller didn’t want it to fall out again. The agent got to know us and she conveyed to the seller that we were solid buyers. I believe this was a big factor in our offer being accepted over two others that were made around the same time.

Another benefit was that the agent shared some of the extra commission that came from representing both parties. The seller received net proceeds higher than the prior deal, and we paid a lower price than what was previously contracted. While the agent was surely the biggest beneficiary of the arrangement, she made it a “win-win-win” for all involved.

A final benefit: All requested fixes were accepted by the seller. In the real estate transactions I’ve been through, the “fix it” list seems to be the point at which animosity peaks between buyer and seller. That was not the case this time. It was difficult for the seller to turn away a request list that was presented to him by his own agent. There was no back and forth. All fixes were made and the deal is now done.

What should you do if you’re involved in a dual-agent transaction? The key piece of advice I’d offer: Hire your own inspector. We ignored the list of inspectors presented to us by the agent, and instead hired a professional recommended by someone else.

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