Bypassing the buyer’s agent: Pros, cons, and misperceptions

Bypassing the buyer’s agent: Pros, cons, and misperceptions

The Bay Area is one of the most competitive housing markets in the world. High demand coupled with low inventory often requires buyers to take multiple swings at the plate before successfully landing a house.   Often times, buying a house can feel similar to baseball where a .300 batting average is considered “exceptional.”


Navigating this type of market can be tricky, and the folks at PocketLIst are curious to know why a growing number of buyers elect to do their own property research, attend open houses without an agent, and communicate interest directly to listing agents?   Put differently: In such a competitive housing market, why are many buyers bypassing the services of buyer agents?


We have interviewed many types of buyers and our findings highlight a number of perceived pros, cons, and a few misperceptions.


First, the perceived pros:

  1. Access to the same listing information: Many buyers believe they have access to the same listing information as agents and will scour online portals for new listings more aggressively than a buyer’s agent.  This buyer thinks, “why enlist an agent to do something I can do?
  2. Strategically advantageous:  If a buyer is finds a property of interest they’ll reach out directly to the listing agent.  These buyers think that listing agents will favor them because they could potentially earn more of the commission by representing both seller AND buyer.*
  3. Convenience: This buyer does not want to receive daily email feeds from agents or communication until (or if) they’re ready to see properties.  


Second, the cons:

  1. Access to pre-MLS or private listings:  Some agents have access to this kind of information and can lead clients to off-market opportunities.  If a buyer is not connected to an agent – or a service like PocketList – there’s no chance they’ll get access to this information.  Access to this kind of information is essential to getting a leg up on competition.
  2. Organization: Like all big transactions, acquiring a home requires organization that a buyer’s agent – or service like PocketList – can assist with. If you’re not organized in advance of the transaction, you’re at a strategic disadvantage.


Third, the misperceptions:

  1. *All agents want to represent both sides of the transaction.  In fact, many agents have a policy where they will not represent both sides of a transaction.  If you are an unrepresented buyer who believes you’ll be more attractive to listing agents…you might be wrong.  Every listing agent is different.
  2. The only motivation for the seller is price.  This is flat wrong and the closer you are to the motivations of the seller the more likely you’ll be to crafting an appealing offer.  One way to get close to the deal is to have an expert help you navigate the sale.


If you are currently a buyer and not using an agent, we would be interested to hear your rationale. Please send us an email at and tell us about your experience.


PocketList seeks to organize the private marketplace for homes in the Bay Area by connecting qualified buyers to privately marketed homes.  For buyers, access is everything.

Tom MacLeod
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