Purchasing Mueller Austin real estate is a topic dear to my heart – I’ve bought houses here myself, and Sherlock Homes Austin has helped hundreds of people move here too. Is the process fair though, or is it controlled by a few people who have the most market share of the listings? I’ll share a few examples, and a few principles of Real estate brokerage to answer this here.
Texas real estate brokerage principle one: A broker represents the seller by default if no party is explicitly represented. What does this mean in practice? It means that I can only say nice things about a home publicly – things that would be in a seller’s best interest. This doesn’t just extend to my own listings. That means that on my public blog, which is viewed by clients and non-clients alike (those who aren’t represented by me), I can’t tell you which three of the current Mueller homes for sale I think are ludicrously overpriced. That wouldn’t represent the sellers’ best interests. So bear in mind that despite my attempts to be balanced in representing home buying reality here, I sometimes have to reserve many of my negative opinions for private interactions with clients.
Texas real estate brokerage principle two: Undisclosed dual agency is not sanctioned by the Texas Real Estate Commission. So that means if I have a Mueller home listing and represent the seller, and I also represent a buyer who contracts to by that same house, I have to make it very clear who I do and don’t represent. There are situations where other agents from my brokerage are assigned to represent one party or the other, so that everyone has representation. There’s a great deal to say about dual agency and I’ll leave that to a separate post.
Texas real estate brokerage principle three: A broker owes a fiduciary duty to their clients to put the clients’ needs above their own, and also to maintain the needs of competing clients confidential. So when I have two buyer clients wanting to buy the same house, I can’t chose a favorite and tell them to bid $500 more than the other client. Neither should any other agent in the same situation.
And lastly, this isn’t a principle, but is an implication of the rules and contracts. In fact, it’s something they tell you at real estate school: Insider trading is perfectly legal in real estate. By which I mean that if it is for the best interest of a Mueller home seller, there is no need to market a home on the Multiple Listing Service, tell many other agents, or put a sign in a home’s yard. So if I have a buyer or agent who I know will buy a particular home, and the seller doesn’t want to have a herd of eager beavers stomping through their house, the purchase can be made discretely and to all intents and purposes, silently.
So is this fair for buyers? Not always, no. Especially not in this extreme sellers’ market. This pains me somewhat. I hold myself to high ethical standards, to make sure I abide by the real estate brokerage principles. I also like to make people happy, and not just because I’m going to see my neighbors at the playground, swimming pool and at community events. I don’t like unfair. I don’t like the fact that there were so few homes to chose from when I bought both new houses here that I was assigned a number and given a short time to chose a home before someone else got a shot. I understand first hand that incredible uncertainty and the pressure and tension being a buyer in a sellers’ market brings. And I’m one of those empathic people who sees this happen with my and other agents’ clients.
To be completely open book about this, as long as I put my clients’ needs above my own, I still have a business to run. I have to offer something to prospective clients, so that they become clients and I can get them what they want. So when I tell prospective sellers that I know someone that would buy their home tomorrow, it’s because it’s my business to build up a list of potential buyers and sellers. Heck, that’s what brokerage means after all. Which is why I tell potential buyers that I have an inside line to listings – both mine and other agents’.
Let’s think this through. Say that there are two listing agents who represent about 83% of a market’s real estate transaction sides. If you have one of those agents represent you in a short inventory market, you are betting that your agent will be able to give you the opportunity to see at least 83% of the listings ahead of the pack (assuming that the appropriate sellers want to sell with the minimum of intrusion to their daily schedule). You’re also betting that your agent will have a line on upcoming listings from the other 17%.
This assumes that the agents cooperate and share information, which you might expect if that represents the sellers’ best interests for any given listing. What this doesn’t account for is if the agent in question has two parties – both a buyer and a seller – who are a match. It might be that the perfectly legitimate insider dealing would account for certain homes.
So sometimes one of the agents may put up a “Sold” sign outside a home that never came to market, and they may chose to enter the home into the MLS after it is already under contract. After all, a sign and a home in the MLS can help the agent to attract more business, and gaining market share could potentially better serve clients in addition to adding to the agent’s bottom line.
So is this fair? Not to the buyers who miss out. Not to the buyers who aren’t represented by an agent who has good relationships with the market and the likely listing agents. Will this change? It’s a completely different story in a buyers’ market. When will the next buyers’ market come to Mueller? I’m not sure, but if you look at real estate cycles, when something has been a sellers’ market for so long, the day will come when the market will invert, and sellers will be desperate for buyers to come and see their homes.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Get in touch if you are interested in talking about buying or selling a home here, or if you want to know which listings are outrageously over-priced. 512 215 4785