One thing that has troubled me since I became a real estate broker 15 years ago is when the same agent represents the buyer and seller in a transaction. This is called dual agency. Maybe it is because I am a lawyer that I feel so strongly about this but to me it is a clear conflict of interests.
Everyone knows this. That is why a buyer and seller must sign a waiver before a single real estate agent can represent both of them in the same transaction. Seriously, how can one person represent the competing interests of two people? How can an agent negotiate on behalf of the buyer to get the best price for a property when he or she also represents the seller, and vice versa? Occasionally, I will hear a property mentioned at an office sales meeting that surprisingly sold for too much or too little and then learn that a single agent represented both sides, benefiting one of his clients and harming the other. I have had instances where I represented the seller and I had a buyer who was interested in the property. In those instances, I referred my buyer to another agent so that both sides could be represented fairly.
I would like to make one distinction about dual agency. By definition, dual agency includes not only one person representing both sides, it also includes different agents from the same brokerage firm representing the buyer and seller in a transaction. I have no problem with the latter situation. When you are in a firm with 500 agents, having someone else in the firm who you may not even know represent the buyer when you are representing the seller is very different from a single agent representing both sides. I would not want to see complete abolishment of all dual agency, only where a single agent represents both sides. Abolishing dual agency as to agents in the same brokerage would greatly limit a seller’s opportunity to sell to the other 499 agents in the listing agent’s brokerage. It would also greatly limit a buyer’s opportunity to buy from the other 499 agents in the buyer agent’s brokerage.
Real estate agents owe a fiduciary duty to their clients. It is the agent’s obligation to put the client’s best interests above the agent’s. https://www.inman.com/real-estate-glossary/fiduciary/ A question to ask an agent you are considering hiring should be, “would you consider personally representing both sides?” If the agent’s response is “yes,” a red flag should go up in your mind. Many of my colleagues, like me, will not represent a buyer and a seller in a given transaction. To me, the person who gains the most in single-agent dual agency is the agent, with an increased commission.
If you want an agent who puts your best interests first and only represents one side, don’t hesitate to give me a call!