Stuart Vetterick | Los Angeles Real Estate

The Playbook: Deciding to be a Buyer’s or Seller’s Agent

What type of market do you want to work in? Guiding prospective buyers will be a lot easier if you honestly like the area in which you live and work. What types of houses do you want to sell? There are many options to choose from, including good, old-fashioned single-family homes, condos and even luxury properties. You also need to determine whether you’ll be a buyer’s agent or a seller’s agent. While you can do both, dual agency is its own unique package.

Bill Gassett, owner and founder of Maximum Real Estate Exposure in Boston—and a regular contributor to RISMedia—has written about the differences in the types of agents within real estate. While his pieces are typically geared toward the consumer, here he offers a more personal perspective, one that’s useful to real estate professionals to help chart their career.

“I think one of the biggest things people need to know when talking about seller’s agent versus buyer’s agent is the availability and time involved,” Gassett says.

“With a buyer’s agent, you’re essentially always on demand and have to instantly react to a buyer when a new property comes on the market, whereas being a listing agent is very different. It’s much easier to work remotely when you’re a listing agent because you don’t have to necessarily be meeting with a client, meeting with a buyer—so the availability and the time spent with the client is far different. Working with the seller, most of your work is going to happen upfront in the beginning, whereas working with a buyer is going to be constant,” adds Gassett.

Stuart Vetterick, a broker associate with Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills, California, adds that buyer’s agents in luxury markets have their own set of challenges—some of which are unique to the luxury market, others driven by national trends.

“Being a buyer’s agent in our high-end location poses the challenge of reassessing price ranges in the new interest rate environment and urging buyers to be patient during the property value reset. Some sellers are reluctant to sell at current market levels, hoping for a price rebound. Moreover, with a majority of mortgage holders having rates at or below 5%, they are unable to sell and reinvest their home equity, leading them to either not sell or rent out their properties while renting elsewhere until interest rates decline.”

If you think these differences might affect relationship-building with your clients or your ability to generate referrals after closing, Gassett stresses that this isn’t a problem. Rather, agents should understand and navigate the differences to decide which mode of operation best suits them.

“For me, early on in my career, I realized that I liked working with sellers and marketing much better than I did working with buyers,” Gassett says. “I’d rather be able to go out, get the listing and then know if I do a good job, I’m guaranteed a sale. Working with a buyer, it can be an endless amount of time, and all of a sudden, you’ve shown them 10, 15 houses and they decide that they’re going to go buy in another area where you don’t service. So you can waste a lot of time with a buyer and get no compensation from it.”

Vetterick, on the other hand, is a dual agent and feels this path can offer agents greater control over their career.

“I prefer not to limit myself to the role of just a buyer’s or seller’s agent. What I pride myself on is being a client’s agent. I set my business apart from typical agents who represent high-end properties and clients by starting with the extra mile. Rather than relying on chance, I take proactive steps, control the narrative and ensure success. Whether assisting in the buying or selling journey, I consistently give my utmost effort, wholeheartedly dedicating myself 100% of the time.”

If you’re a dual agent, you will have a higher workload and will have to navigate the pros and cons of both paths—you could be struggling to get listings and having buyers flake on you. However, dual agents cast the widest net. When the market faces challenges such as those we’re seeing today (high mortgage rates, low inventory, etc.), agents don’t always have the luxury of choosing,

“If I wasn’t where I was in my career right now, where I’m comfortable having done this so long, if I was just a few years into the business, I would probably be doing both because I’d have to,” Gassett says.

While choosing to work with buyers or sellers might sound like a rookie’s conundrum, experienced agents making a pivot isn’t unheard of. In Gassett’s experience, agents typically transitioning from the role of buyer’s agent to seller’s agent is most common. However, during market downturns, having the knowledge you need to pivot in either direction will be an asset.

Bonus tips:

— Devin Meenan

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