When you’ve found a house to buy — who ya gonna call?

Historic Red Hook home, barn, and garage currently listed at $475,000

Historic Red Hook home, barn, and garage currently listed at $475,000

Whether you find it online, in the papers, or driving by; there comes a time that you will want more detail about a property that is for sale than you can find in the listing or just by looking at it from the street. After some consideration, you may even want to make an offer on the property. You may call the listing agent, of course. But you don’t have to. In fact, between New York State law and the Multiple Listing System (MLS) rules and regulations, the system is set up to insure you have access to a real estate agent who puts your interests over those of the seller. That’s the person you should be calling — your own buyer’s agent.

Real estate marketplace

Unless the property is being sold by its owner without the assistance of the a real estate broker, the property will be listed in one or more Multiple Listing Systems (MLSs). The MLSs are like stock exchanges, but for real estate. As in any other exchange, various rules and regulations have been created to insure that that buyers, sellers, agents, and properties are treated fairly, openly, and efficiently. In other words, the MLS is a way of bringing order to the marketplace.

Marketplace rules

There are two rules of importance that relate to the central question of this post, which is who are you, the potential buyer, gonna call for more information and perhaps to make an offer?

Offer of cooperation

The first is that each listing must include an offer of cooperation to other participating brokers. The offer of cooperation states a percentage of the listing commission that will be paid to a buyer’s broker or sub-agent. As a potential buyer then, you should understand that the cost of a broker/agent who will put your interests ahead of his or her own and those of the seller is already built in to the commission that the seller is paying. Using your own agent to get information about a listing should not increase your purchase price.

Listing types

The second rule is that — at least in our area — the MLSs accept only two types of listings as defined by New York State law. One of these types is called “exclusive right to sell”; the other is called “exclusive agency.” Thus, the term “exclusive” refers to specific types of arrangements between agent and seller and has nothing to do with which agents can show you a listing. In fact, all participating agents and brokers can show you the property and contact the listing agent on your behalf.

(Why do some brokerages insist on splashing the word “EXCLUSIVE” all over their yard signs and newspaper ads? — you might well ask. I think the practice is misleading and should be banned. See this posting for more.)

What if I don’t have my own buyer’s agent?

Of course, inspiration is likely to flash when least expected. If you have a smart phone or other internet-connected device, you’re in luck. Just about anywhere in the country you can at least get the price of any listed property right at the end of its driveway. (In Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, just go online to Ask-Marty.com and use the Find Me button to re-center the map on your location. I leave a bookmark on my screen; it works just like an app!)

But for anything beyond the price and the listing itself, it will surely pay if you take the time to do a little bit of research and establish a relationship with a real estate agent or broker who will serve as your buyer’s agent by guiding you through the  process and placing your interests and needs above his or her own and those of the seller.


Thanks for reading. When you are ready to start browsing homes or land in Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster Counties, I encourage you to do so at my websiteAsk-Marty.com. Because I am a member of THREE MLSs (Mid-Hudson MLS [Dutchess County], Ulster County MLS, and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess MLS), you can search the entire region on both sides of the Hudson River. You can save properties that interest you and you can set the site to email you notices when new listings match your criteria. This a great way for buyers or sellers to monitor a specific neighborhood or school district or type of property!
Best wishes,


Maarten Reilingh (Marty)
Licensed Real Estate Broker
Serving Dutchess, Ulster & Columbia Counties
48 E. Market St; Red Hook, NY 12571
845-532-1204 (voice)
720-625-6543 (fax)

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