Every couple months the same scenario unfolds in my real estate life: a prospective Buyer happens across my Chicago MLS search engine (usually by means of a long-tail Google real estate search, i.e.,'Wrigleyville MLS search,' 'Uptown Chicago neighborhood property search,' 'Pet Friendly Chicago Rentals,' etc.); they proceed to log on and register; they 'Favorite' several listed properties; and then, usually after a repeat visit or two, request either a 'showing' or 'additional information.' My immediate response to these new registrants is always the same: "Are you currently working with another Realtor?"
^ And here's why >>>: You. Only. Need. One. Buyers. Agent., period.
^ And here's why >>>: The. Listing. Agent. Always. Represents. The. Seller., period.
(unless its a Dual Agency situation, in which case, a very narrow and specific set of real estate laws apply in Illinois.)
^ And here's why >>>: Because while legal in this state, Dual Agency dilutes the negotiating power of both the Buyer and the Seller while simultaneously restricting the powers of the designated Realtor. Period.
**[Things get even hairier when the Buyer has reached out to multiple Realtors during the same property search. It's also worth mentioning that while most web sites (mine included) provide consumer access to every listed property on the MLS--99.9999% of those are NOT the personal listings of the web site owner. So its feasible that the Buyer has not only been in touch with the Listing Agent and possibly their own Agent, but also the Agent(s) whose website(s) they are surfing, and any other part-time licensed relative with a real estate opinion willing to jump into the mix.]
Now of course, there is no law that dictates a buyer must use a Realtor (or even have a Buyers Agent at all) to purchase a property. This is still America, for crissakes. If you are a consumer and feel you are well-versed in Cook County tax pro-ration arrears lingo; closing cost line items; city, county and state tax stamps; all contingency clauses and the earnest money protocol with each; as well as lines 181 through 261 of even the simplest CAR real estate purchase contract (assuming, of course, you have access to such a contract), then by all means...Proceed. With. The. Process. Otherwise, a clear understanding with your Realtor of choice and a signed Buyers Agent Agreement may be the safest route down that tricky path.
Just understand this: once you open up a specific conversation with the Listing Agent on your own--even at an open house-- 'implied agency' (representation) may occur at any future step and you may find yourself in a 'procuring cause' situation that won't permit you to start using your own Realtor later even if you want to--or at least your own Realtor who expects to be paid for their services. Remember, the Listing Agent directs the distribution of commissions and 'representation' does not automatically dictate 'compensation' in Illinois. It's a fancy way of saying 'you dance with the one who brung ya.'
**So if you want to see things get unsavory quickly, just have three different Chicago Realtors show up at the same closing table for the same deal, expecting to get paid--and have one of them be me. (lol...but not really.)
Geno Petro | Chicago Realtor