Q: I’m in the process of buying my first home. Yesterday, I told my buyer’s agent that I had been approved to spend as much as $180,000, but the amount I am comfortable spending is only $150,000 to $160,000.
Looking back, I wonder if I made a mistake by being so honest with my agent about how much I want to spend. Do you think knowing I only want to spend up to $160,000 will affect my agent’s performance?
Also, I am looking for a home on the state line between Rhode Island and Connecticut. I have two agents, one for each state. Is this okay or is this a situation that might backfire on me?
A: Let me answer the second question first: If agents in your area work both sides of the state line, what you’ve done could spell trouble down the line. And, it’s not fair to either the agents or yourself.
I think you should ask the agent you like best if he or she works in both places. If so, then don’t waste the other agent’s time. Explain to the other agent that, due to your ignorance, you unfortunately engaged two agents simultaneously. Apologize profusely and end the relationship. If it turns out that neither agent works in the other agent’s territory, then it might be fine to work with them both – but tell them you’re looking in two places.
As for disclosing how much you can truly afford, a buyer’s agent should have your interests at heart. If she does, then knowing that piece of information shouldn’t affect her performance, unless you end up in a dual agency situation, where your buyer’s agent sells you a home on which she is the listing agent.
But even in that worst-case scenario, how much you spend to buy a home is ultimately up to you. You have to stick to your budget, and if the agent doesn’t respect that, you might at that time consider finding another agent.
Feb. 28, 2001.