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The Buyer´s Agent

Buyer broker concept slowly catching on in North Shore


When Janice and Allan Gauthier were house bunting last year, they wanted a broker who "would truly be on our side," recalled Janice.

Moving from Connecticut to the North Shore, the Gauthiers needed a broker willing to preview the homes before they made five or six weekend visits, someone who would weed out homes on busy streets or properties too small for a growing family.

Janice and Allan Gauthier

Janice and Allan Gauthier stand on the front steps of the Hamilton home they purchased with the help of Buyer´s Choice Realty of Hamilton, a company that works with buyers only.

After attending a home-buying seminar and talking with friends, the Gauthiers decided to hire a "buyer's broker," a real estate agent who works exclusively for the buyer.

Although this was their first home purchase Janice and Allan Gauthier recall the experience as a pleasant one.

"This is the most money we've ever spent on anything in our lives. We wanted an ally, someone who would advocate for us," said Gauthier. The couple chose broker Ronn Huth of Buyer's Choice Realty of Hamilton, an exclusive buyer's agent.

As parents of two young boys, the Gauthiers had researched the local school system and decided Hamilton was wanted to live.

Since they were limited to a price range of $150,000-$160,000, the Gauthiers spent a lot of time searching for a home they could afford, looking at more than 20 homes in Danvers, Beverly and Essex.

"We never thought we'd be able to buy a house in Hamilton.  But we think we got the sale of the century," said Janice Gauthier from the living room of her Victorian cottage-style home, which sold for $159,800.

She credits Huth with providing "a personal touch" that helped them successfully conclude the deal on their eight-room home when three other offers were on the table.

"Ours was not the highest bid," added Gauthier, who believed their broker's recommendation to obtain a letter of mortgage approval from the bank gave them the edge on the deal.

The early 1990s have seen a growing trend of hiring buyers' agents, although only a sprinkling of independent companies offer the service here.

Statewide, only 130 brokers work for the buyer only, and another 100 brokers belong to the Massachusetts Association of Buyer's Agents (MABA), according to Ronn Huth, executive vice president of MABA.

Those who opt to work exclusively for the buyer do not list properties, explained Huth, who recalled that his real estate colleagues thought he was crazy in the law 1980s when he decided to become a buyer's broker.

"The buyers are the people who bring the cash to a transaction.  They should be represented too," said Huth, who pointed out that real estate agents traditionally have expended most of their efforts to obtaining listings.

Because buyer's agents do not list properties, their livelihood depends upon finding a house for their client, the buyer, whether the property is in the multiple listing service computer, for sale by owner, or a foreclosed or auction property.

Huth stressed, "We represent the buyers.  Any agent in my office will tell you they sleep better at night" in their quest for a buyer's best interest, he added.

The Hamilton broker predicted that consumer awareness and the demand for buyer's agents will determine the ultimate success of this approach, which is relatively new in the real estate industry in the New England area.

Source: Kathryn Pearson, North Shore Community Newspapers, September 13, 1995