Disclosed Dual Agency is legal is South Carolina. If you don’t know what it means, I’ll give you a simple example. I have a listing at 2258 Redfern Dr. in Mt. Pleasant and I advertise that listing on my website. One of you asks about it and wants to put in an offer. My first responsibility is to my seller, and I can legally write the contract and facilitate the sale to you, while you represent yourself, basically. If this situation comes up, what I would do is refer you to another agent and they would represent you, help you come up with your offer price, help you complete the negotiation, handle the contingencies, and get you to closing. Does that make sense?
Why is this important to you? Most of the time, everything goes fine. 95% or more of real estate transactions are pretty straight forward, and not really a lot more complicated than buying a car. Since the MLS has gone public, agents no longer control public access to listings. And so even more people are deciding to buy because of the belief that they are actually better off representing themselves. Based on my personal experience buying and selling my own homes, it’s quite understandable why they would think this. I know I did. It’s harder to get a driver’s license in South Carolina than it is to get a real estate license. To get a driver’s license you need to know how to drive and have actually practiced with an instructor in the car. To get a real estate license in South Carolina, you only have to pass a written test. And the instructors remind you that you can answer every one of the math questions wrong, and still pass the test. Half of the four choices on the multiple choice test questions are obviously wrong, and so you can score a 50% without knowing the answers to any questions. You just have to know enough to get yourself from 50 to 70%. So, is it important to be represented by a licensed real estate agent. No, I’d say you’re probably better off representing yourself. Unless you can find someone that knows what they’re doing.
A real estate buyer’s agent that knows what they’re doing is going to help you get the best price you can and help you determine how motivated the seller is. They are also going to help you meet your other goals…your timing, and making sure that you’re buying a good home and not one with big problems.
So, is it in my seller’s best interest to have the buyer represented? Absolutely! In South Carolina, the seller becomes very vulnerable the day they take their home off the market. No judge in South Carolina is going to force a buyer to buy, and to get the earnest money as some concession, they have to go to small claims court…if you’ve done that before, you know it’s barely worth doing for $2000. So, if the buyer has done their due diligence both prior to the offer, and during the inspection period, the seller can either get their home back on the market in a short period of time, or move forward, knowing that the buyer has recieved appropriately motivated assistance with their due diligence.
Have any of you ever taken your home off the market for 45 days and had a buyer back out? They can usually find something in the contract as a reason, but it could be that they found a better deal, or just didn’t feel good about this one. And the only thing you can do as the seller is to try to get the earnest money. So, you’ve packed up most of your stuff, maybe even already moved it all into storage. You have a contract in on your new home contingent on the sale and closing of this home. And now, you’re starting over again.
How about you buyers? Have you, as the buyer, ever entered into a contract, and been concerned that critical details were withheld? Perhaps you overpaid? Perhaps something about the home was misrepresented that affects the value. It could be something as small as the carpets not being cleaned.
Let us know your thoughts.