Should the Buyer and Seller Talk Directly

No way I'm letting MY sellers do THAT!

Since I was a small pup in real estate, I was taught that we agents should keep the buyer and seller apart at all costs. God forbid, they might find they don’t need us or something. We agents were supposed to control everyone else to the nth degree.

But over the years, I’ve discovered something interesting. For the most part, buyers and sellers are adults. Sometimes more so than the agents involved.

I understand the concern – one of the parties might blurt out in a moment of weakness “sure we’ll take $50,000 less than our asking price!” or “if we don’t sign a contract by tomorrow night, we’ll be living on the street!” As an agent, I would be a little upset by those comments – they go to the core of my job, which is negotiating.

However, I had a recent settlement – I represented the buyer – where the seller’s agent was responding to the buyer’s home inspection requests. She got very blustery and said, “There’s no way my sellers (note the “my” before sellers, dear readers – it’s often a bad sign!) are going to do those repairs! You think my sellers are going to rebuild the house???” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us agents, the buyer drove by the house and there was the seller, doing yard work. One thing led to another, and while the other agent was still blustering, the actual parties to the contract (note: we agents are not parties to the contract) worked it out.

It’s not something I recommend – I would never suggest to a client that he go talk directly to the other side of the deal. Some people handle it better than others, some really want that intermediary (us) in there. I’ve had curmudgeonly clients who would have only made things worse. Even had a mean drunk for a client – I would never have wanted him talking directly to the buyer – what a disaster that would have been!

But I find that most buyers and sellers really are adults and after all, it’s their contract, not mine.

© 2011 Susan Pruden. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to Should the Buyer and Seller Talk Directly

  1. Yeah. This could go either way. It is true that the seller and buyer are the one’s involved in the contract. Yet, depending on the temperament of the buyer or seller or both it could be a great experience or a horrible one.

    My story is about a seller during the “bubble years” who was going to back out of a contract for some other offer. When I told my (ooops) the buyer, he immediately went to the seller and threatened legal action, yadda, yadda, yadda. However, it woke the seller up and we all went to settlement.

    There is a lot going on in a real estate transaction and that’s really why Realtors exist – to help people through the complexity. I usually try to maintain a cool head but, I admit, sometimes I get a little, er, animated.
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    • susanpruden says:

      I’ve had it work both ways – but most of the time, by the time I’ve found out that the buyer and seller have chatted, they’ve bonded over other things and we had a smooth transaction. Whether it was because of the direct contact or in spite of it, I’ll never know. However, I’ll never recommend it as a course of action.

      Actually, once, quite a few years ago, there was an agent on the other side of the transaction who just dropped out of sight – didn’t get any calls back (this was before email was prevalent) for a week or so. The buyer (my client) finally went and knocked on the seller’s door and asked if the seller still wanted to sell his house. Turns out, the agent had gone on vacation for a week and neglected to tell anyone. I had completely forgotten about that one – the agent was furious that the buyer “went around his listing contract”. Of course, the seller was pretty ticked off at his agent, as well. Can’t remember what the issue was that sparked the whole thing, but it was something that needed to be dealt with in a timely manner. Probably an FHA appraisal issue, given that it was about 15 years ago.

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