What does Dual Agency mean when it comes to Real Estate?

Who does Your Delaware REALTOR® Represent in a Real Estate Transaction?

Sometimes situations come up where the real estate agent may be representing both the buyer and the seller, this is called Dual Agency. Is this even legal? What should you know as someone buying or selling a home in this situation?

Kathy Sperl Bell, the Broker/Owner of Active Adults Realty in Delaware, explains it below…

Explaining Dual Agency - Who your Delaware REALTOR representsIn Delaware, a REALTOR® may represent the Seller, by listing a property for sale, or the Buyer, by working with a Buyer to help them find the best home, in the best location, for them. If you contact the Listing Agent directly about a particular property they are selling, it is perfectly legal for them to work with both you, the Buyer, and the Seller. In Delaware, this is called Dual Agency.

Don’t assume this is the same everywhere, it is not! Don’t just nod and say “uh huh, uh huh” when the agent you are meeting with wants to tell you all about how Dual Agency works here in Delaware. I know you just want to go look at houses, but it’s important, so listen up!

Under Delaware Law, it is presumed that you consent to dual agency unless you fill out the Consumer Information Statement form saying you do not want dual agency. Dual agency is explained below.

Dual Agency

Whenever a dual agency relationship exists, the designated salesperson/real estate agent, or associate broker, that agent’s broker, and the brokerage organization may be dual agents.

Examples of Dual Agency relationships are listed below:

  1. If the same salesperson or associate broker represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction, then that salesperson or associate broker, his or her broker, and brokerage organization are all dual agents.
  2. If the buyer and seller are represented by two different salespeople or associate brokers working for the same broker, then the broker and the brokerage organization are both dual agents, but the salespersons or associate broker are not.
  3. If the buyer and seller are represented by two different salespeople or associate brokers working for different brokers under the same brokerage organization, then only the brokerage organization is a dual agent.

In layman’s terms, what does this mean to you?

If you are a Seller, do you want your Listing Agent to bring Buyers and try to sell your home to them? Most Sellers would say “Of course, isn’t that why I listed with him/her?”

Think about that for a minute. You should want your Listing Agent to focus on marketing your home so that every agent with a potential buyer for your home will want to show it as soon as the listing goes live. Yes,  your Listing Agent may also end up with the Buyer, sure, but that should not be the primary goal. Discuss Dual Agency with your Listing Agent before your home is listed, not in the middle of contract negotiations.

If you are a Buyer, and you want your Buyer Agent to represent only you in any transaction, you should definitely not be on the Internet calling listing agents about homes they have listed for sale or driving around calling agents from their signs. If you do, you are in effect consenting to Dual Agency.

Many people ask, “Won’t it cost more if I  have my own Buyer Agent?”  Absolutely not, unless you are looking at a home that is not listed with a REALTOR®, but that is a topic for another article.

On any home listed with a REALTOR® in Delaware, the commission was negotiated between the seller and their listing agent when the listing was taken and always comes out of the seller side of the transaction. A pre-determined percentage of that commission is paid to the buyer brokerage.

Numbers 2 and 3 above of the sample Dual Agency relationships describe scenarios in which only the Broker of Record or the Brokerage organization have dual agency responsibilities while the individual agents are clearly designated to represent only their Buyer or Seller client.

Are your eyes glazing over yet?

That is okay, it can be confusing, and the laws are different in every state, so it is especially important you work with an experienced Buyer Agent when you are relocating to a new area.

Wherever you are, it is always a good idea to work with a Buyer Agent when you are searching for a home, instead of driving around and contacting the Listing Agent when you see a home that looks interesting. Your Buyer Agent will be able to pre-select homes to show you after learning about you, your lifestyle, and what’s most important to you. Building a good working relationship with your Buyer Agent is the best way to know you have someone on your side, someone who will help you find a home you’ll be happy with for a long time to come.

And YES, you should have a Buyer Agent even when you are looking at new construction, maybe even more so. Read this article to learn more about buying new construction homes.

If you still have questions, you can always email Kathy at Broker@ActiveAdultsRealty.com or call 302-424-1890 to have a conversation on how to ensure you have a Buyer Agent working for you as you look to buy your new home.