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USE OF BUYER AGENTS GROWING
 

By JAY KUMAR
Essex County Newspapers

Ron Huth knew something felt wrong soon after he became a Realtor in 1989.

"I felt very uneasy about taking buyers around and knowing my relationship and duty was to the seller," he says. "I told them not to tell me anything they wouldn't tell the seller."

"We protect people who buy real estate. There are a lot of ways in which a buyer of real estate can get into a real mess." - Ronn Huth


But still, a young couple trying to buy their first home would often say things that Huth knew he had to tell the seller. This led him to become the first real estate agent on the North Shore exclusively working for home buyers instead of sellers.

"For me, never being in the industry until I became a Realtor, it was very difficult. I couldn't do this day-to-day and live with myself," says Huth.

When an Ipswich teacher who was looking for a home asked Huth to represent him instead of the seller, he researched it and decided to open Buyer's Choice Realty in Hamilton.

Five years later, he has seven agents working for him in a growing field that is still unfamiliar to many.

"Everything that a traditional real estate agent or subagent owes to a seller, we owe to the buyer of property," says Huth. "The difference is our approach is really a consulting and informational approach rather than a selling approach."

There isn't as much money in it for Huth as for traditional real estate agencies, since his firm does not "double dip" by providing house listings and negotiating for a sale. The agency that lists a home can either sell it or subcontract another agent to sell it.

"Most listing services offer the same fee to a buyer agent as a seller's broker," he says. The fees are also negotiable.

Huth says he will provide a would-be buyer with information on listed and other properties available, then compare a property with others to determine a fair market value. This includes looking at the history of the house and talking to neighbors, he adds.

"We will then go in and negotiate for you. Our intent and mode of operating is not to gouge the seller," says Huth. "We protect people who buy real estate. There are a lot of ways in which a buyer of real estate can get into a real mess."

Traditional real estate agents feel they can offer plenty of information for buyers.

"Most buyers will find working with a traditional agent more than satisfies their needs," says David King, spokesman for Wakefield-based Carlson Real Estate / Better Homes and Gardens. "I think the vast majority of buyers would not need buyer representation."

While he concedes that the traditional agent works for the seller but with the buyer, King says he only sees a need for a buyer agent in extreme cases.

"It would be difficult for me to say where they'd be best served by a buyer agent," he says. "With a traditional agent, they can get all the information they need. I believe strongly that the vast majority are better off working with a traditional agent."

But Huth feels there is a big difference between the two types of agents.

"It is distinctively different. It is night and day," he says. "I can't see why any buyer of real estate would want to do it any different. If you're a traditional agent and you tell a buyer what they should offer for a property, you can lose your license if the seller finds out."

Buyer agencies are growing throughout the country in areas like California and Hawaii, says Huth.

"It's definitely a growing factor in the marketplace," he adds. "More and more consumers are going to have representation."

Source: Jay Kumar, Essex County Newspapers, April 28, 1995