The Real Deal Miami

Buyers’ brokers find downsides

By Jennifer LeClaire | July 11, 2008 02:17PM

In a buyers’ market, more brokers are becoming buyers’ agents.

Qualified buyers may be more difficult to find in today’s market, but if brokers find one they are in line for a healthy commission – and a faster commission – than listing a property for sale for 180 to 220 days, the average range in today’s market.

Buyers are driving the market, and targeting them may give brokers more control over transactions today, just as sellers gave them more control two years ago. But there are also downsides, namely the hand holding and property showing that are part and parcel with catering to buyers.

Do the pros of targeting buyers outweigh the cons? Or should successful brokers stick with their tried and true listings despite the market?

Christine Van Buskirk, relocation director in the Ft. Lauderdale offices of Balistreri Realty, regularly works with both buyers and sellers. She does see a downside in working with buyers, though.

“Buyers are great, however it is hard sometimes to tame them. They aren’t always loyal,” Van Buskirk said.

As Jodi Macken sees it, a true professional maintains all her clients because buyers eventually become sellers and vice versa. Still, there is some realism about today’s buyers.

“Buyers are only a strong commodity if they are realistic, credit worthy, and have a fair amount of cash available as the lending standards have certainly become more stringent,” Macken said, associate director of Macken Realty in Aventura.

While a listing agreement ensures a commission if marketed properly and sold, buyers don’t necessarily look for the best agents. They look for the best deals. And they may think they’ll get a better deal if they work only with the listing agent.

“My attitude as a broker is that if one works with the best qualified agent, they will not only find the best deal, but also have an arsenal of properties to choose from,” Macken said.

Michael Soon Lee, author of “111 Ways to Justify Your Commission,” said buyers’ brokers have to take steps to protect themselves in today’s market.

Lee’s recommendation: Make sure every buyer signs a buyer-broker agreement that entitles the broker to a commission during a specified period no matter who the buyer purchases through.

“Some buyers will use a local broker to find them a home and then use their relative who is an agent from out of the area – possibly kicking-back part of their commission – to write the offer,” Lee warned.

“Without an agreement the local broker does all of the work and receives nothing,” he continued. “A buyer broker agreement lets the agent show everything on the market without fear.”

Some brokers may think dealing with buyers instead of sellers is the best strategy for agents in a down market, but Scott Coloney, principal of The Coloney Group of RE/MAX in Ft. Lauderdale, disagreed.

“Yes, working with buyers has become an important strategy for staying in business,” he said, “but dealing only with buyers may leave you lacking long term business and will not separate you from the pack.”