Home buyers who have to sell the houses they're already living in before they can make a new purchase sometimes turn for help to the real estate agents who are representing the sellers.

In many cases buyers are impressed with the skills of the agent, but there are several potential problems that should be considered.

The seller's agent may suggest, for instance, that you make an offer that would obligate you to use the services of that particular individual or firm for the sale of your property. In effect, you are pre-listing your home with a party employed by your adversaries -- the sellers.

In this situation, who is the agent representing? Is it the sellers who initially retained this individual or the buyers who have been obligated to provide future business if the sale is concluded? The agent's job is to serve one principal, not two.

It may be suggested that, as part of your offer, you agree to have one week to sell your property, after which you will be obligated to use the seller's broker.

This is not a good idea, but it you try it, let the broker have a seven-day listing and be certain to negotiate all terms. The sole purpose of an offer should be to purchase a property. The listing of your home is a separate matter.

If you would like to hire the selling agent, inquire about a listing only after your offer has been accepted.At that point the agent has found a purchaser who is "ready, willing, and able" to buy the property on terms acceptable to the sellers.

Speak to the sellers and ask if they have been satisfied with the efforts of the agent or broker who has represented them. Would they object if you were to retain the same person or firm?

Even in situations where the sellers are comfortable with your employment of their agent, the possibility of conflict remains. What if the offer you submitted was contingent on the sale of your home and the property does not sell? What if there is a dispute at settlement over who gets the living room drapes?

The decision of whether to hire the sellers' agent should be an option, not an obligation. You should also consider the use of other agents or the independent sale of your property.