One of the things those who work in real estate can’t seem to agree on is that of “dual agent” on a home sale. While it’s legal – in some form, anyway – in all 50 states, getting people on both sides of the sale to come to a consensus is difficult at best.
What is a dual agent?
Many, if not most, REALTORS® can represent sellers as the listing agent. Their responsibility is to sell the home as quickly as they can and at as close to the listing price as possible. They act with the seller’s best interest in mind. For their efforts, they receive a commission.
When someone is ready to buy a home, they can employ a buyer’s agent to help them find their dream home. The agent acts on their behalf to negotiate the price, arrange for inspections, closing and all other things associated with buying a home. For their efforts, they receive a commission.
It may be called “transaction brokerage” by some states, or “designated agency” by others. Simply put, double-ending occurs when the same agency represents both sides of the sale of the home – the buyer and the seller. While it is legal, there are many who find the practice questionable.
The good news is, whether you’re buying or selling, if an agency hopes to represent both sides of a home sale transaction, they have to notify the parties involved.
The advantage is that with fewer people involved, the sale can be done quicker and more efficiently. The advantage to the agent or agency is that the commission is not split.
And thus arises the conflict because a single agent cannot represent the seller’s best interest while representing the buyer’s best interest. They could try to convince the seller to sell at a lower price, or oversell the attributes of the home to the buyer, in order to make the sale.
When you are hiring an agent, make sure to ask if he or she could possibly take you into a dual agent sale. If you feel comfortable, then proceed. However, if you feel that you may have remorse at the end of the transaction, it’s best to avoid the situation.