When you’re in the middle of selling a home and buying a new one, the question inevitably comes up: Can’t I just use the same agent for both transactions—wouldn’t that make things easier? After gathering expert insight from the pros, we came up with the definitive guide on when using the same agent makes sense, and when it doesn’t.
When should I use the same real estate agent to buy and sell a home?
The answer isn't cut and dried, we're afraid: It will all depend on your circumstances. Using one agent for both buying and selling might seem like the easiest solution, but that’s true only if your agent is up to the task on both ends of the sale. This means your agent is comfortable with representing you as both a seller and a buyer, and also that she's familiar with both neighborhoods.
Licensed real estate agent Alyssa Martin of Nest Seekers International in New York City explains that this is one benefit of working with a bigger company.
“If someone is moving from Chelsea to Jersey City, I’m able to collaborate with someone in Jersey City,” she says.
For bigger moves (e.g., from New York to Florida), agents like Martin can even act as a liaison, helping their seller clients locate a buyer's agent in the new location.
When should I get two different agents?
Staci Donegan of Seabolt Real Estate, in Savannah, GA, explains that some moves are simply too big for one agent to handle—especially if the agent is focused on one neighborhood and the client is moving out of it.
“In this situation,” she says, “I would help my client find another agent, even interview them. It just can’t be me—because that would be a disservice to the client.”
Pros of working with the same agent
You’ll often hear people offer rave reviews about working with one agent instead of two, and that’s because there are a few potential benefits worth mentioning.
To start, your real estate agent knows you best.
“You have the synergy of working together,” Donegan says. “During the selling process, I know exactly what they love about their house, what they hate about their house—it’s just the perfect transition from the selling side to the buying side. I know what they’re looking for and what’s important to them.”
Another benefit of working with the same agent is the potential to save money when you sell.
“I would cut commission significantly, and I would go out of pocket on marketing costs,” Martin says.
How to determine if your real estate agent can do both transactions
When deciding on which agent (or agents) to work with for your move, it’s important to ask the right questions.
It bears repeating: Make sure your agent is an expert in both neighborhoods involved. And don't forget to ask whether your real estate professional tends to act more as a listing agent or a buyer's agent.
“The questions become really important,” Martin says, “like, 'What areas have you sold in and had buyers in?' Make sure they have experience on both sides of the process.”
Martin also emphasizes the importance of your real estate agent’s network.
“Relationships with mortgage brokers and closing attorneys are important,” she says. “If you don’t have that, it’s hard to get your client the best deal.”
Another question you’ll want to ask is whether or not the agent has experience working with clients like you. For example, if you’re buying an investment property or you’re in the military and require a VA loan, your agent might have difficulty pulling this off if she hasn't done it before.
“When working with an agent, make sure they have the skills they need for that transaction,” Donegan says.
If you really like your listing agent and the new home is outside of the agent's market, you might consider asking her for help finding a buyer's agent. Since she knows what matters to you better than anyone, she'll be a great resource in connecting you with the right person.
The final word
Ultimately, there seems to be a consensus that working with the same real estate agent is a good idea—but only when it makes sense for your transaction.
“Things can be easier with less people at the closing table,” Martin says. But the experts also agree on this final point as well: Having two qualified agents is much, much better than having one underqualified one.