SmartMoney Magazine originally published an article and several websites (MSN and Yahoo - among many others) recently re-published this very same article about real estate on "10 Things Your Real Estate Broker Won't Tell You."
Interestingly enough it related to an open house I hosted for another agent this past weekend.
Here's the item #4: “I’m not obligated to keep my mouth shut for you.”
You spot your dream house as you’re driving through a neighborhood and call the broker listed on the “for sale” sign. That’s how a lot of buyers stumble on a broker—who, in turn, happily shows you other houses, asking about your needs, laughing at your jokes. It’s easy to get loose-lipped and forget whom you’re dealing with: someone else’s agent. “Legally, brokers are obligated to provide their sellers with any information that can help them get the best prices for their homes,” says Stephen Israel, president of Buyer’s Edge, a Bethesda, Md.–based company that represents homebuyers. “If you tell the broker that you’re willing to pay $500,000 but want to offer $450,000, they’ll pass that on to the seller. They have to.”
Also, some brokerage companies encourage prospective buyers to get preapproved for loans. While that can make a buyer more attractive to a lender [ and seller], it also tells a broker whether a buyer can afford a $600,000 house when he’s trying to haggle on a $400,000 property. “When somebody asks for [a preapproval], find out who they’re representing,” says Israel, acknowledging that such details can short-circuit your negotiating leverage. “If they represent a seller—or someone in their office does—they shouldn’t have it. The broker may tell you she will be impartial, but how can she be?” The bottom line: You need to hire your own broker. “The only safe way to go about it is to have an agent who represents you,” Israel says.
I was truly amazed at how many "unrepresented buyers" are still visiting open houses and freely sharing far too much information with someone that would be negotiating against them and has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller.