Double-Ending. That is a term I didn't hear before this week. I can't find it in any of my real estate books. And yet it started a stink. Can I get an exhaust fan installed?
In a national real estate discussion forum, agents are ripping one another apart like they do when "going to inspections or not" is brought up or like the term "manipulate" is a matter-of-fact, like muscles massaged, or may as well be a four-letter-word, it's so dirty.
There is an awesome form (a form promulgated by TAR) in Texas called Information About Brokerage Services. By law, brokers and their licensed salespersons are supposed to educate consumers about brokerage services, explaining that the duties of the agent depend on whom the agent represents (prospective buyer or prospective seller, prospective tenant or prospective landlord) and explain under what terms Intermediary may be used. This is supposed to be explained on the first substantial discussion with any consumer.
Intermediary in Texas often occurs when a homeowner has their home listed with a brokerage and a buyer comes along who is brought by an agent within the same brokerage firm. This buyer may have another agent in the same firm or they may come to the property because of a relationship with the listing agent. Whether the buyer is with another agent within the same brokerage or with the agent who listed it, an Intermediary relationship becomes an option of all parties -- both buyer and seller and broker, too, would have to agree, in writing, to Intermediary. This Intermediary status is often mentioned upon first meeting -- as in the case of a consumer, a broker or salesperson, has just met and goes over information about brokerage services, as is required by Texas law, and asks the consumer to sign and date the form showing the info was shared and what date it was shared. Intermediary is also addressed in a listing agreement form and in my buyer rep agreement form. Again. It is explained and agreed in writing when listing agreements and buyer rep agreements are explained and signed by all parties. A related form is signed again when a sales contract is signed. This is all, of course, if it's done right. Done well. Done by the book...
There is also the case whereby a buyer comes along, unrepresented, and the brokerage has only seller representation, but buyer represents himself. This sale may still go in MLS as... you name it. How your local MLS has you enter it is between you and your MLS agreement... often is looks "double-ended" in MLS. I will leave it at that. Because different states, different relationships will term this sale differently.
Seems like whether I am in a real estate class full of new licensees, as well as seasoned licensees, or in an online discussion forum full of the same, regardless of if we are all Texans, or span coast to coast, this topic is a hot one and quickly either misunderstood or fought over!
Many agents and brokerage firms in Texas believe Intermediary is easily accomplished. Many believe it is both legal and ethical and an option brokers, agents, buyers and sellers like -- when a deal comes together, it comes together, regardless of who or what or when or how or why made it happen. SOLD!
Many brokerage firms believe dual agency, Intermediary, or anything of the sort should be banned! Outlawed! Many believe "double-ending" is legal, but unethical or very dangerous territory, at best. They believe it is hard if not impossible to move from representing a homeowner exclusively to having a buyer, too, and thereby changing sometimes mid-game, mid-deal, from represented to Intermediary... Mission Impossible.
I have to be honest and I guess bias this post a bit. It's my post, afterall. I think you get a skunk in the room, any deal will stink. Call it any non-classroom-book term like double-ending you want, or call it any agency relationship or non-relationship term straight from the brokerage classroom you want, an incompetent professional or unethical professional and their poor, uneducated, mis-informed, or mis-lead consumer will remain just that... uninformed. That typically turns to either blissfully ignorant or mad as a wet hen they didn't get the service they expected.
The status, when disclosed, explained well, and consented to in writing, between brokerage firms and the principals in the transaction is not typically the mobs' prob...
Status of agency is not usually the issue, to me. It's the competency and ethics of the pro(s) who procure(s) it that makes a sale smell like a barnyard or smell like roses to both brokerage firms and consumers, alike. And we all agree a salesperson who is "double-ending" ALL their deals smells fishy!
This post is dedicated to Debra, Sara, Mitch, Michael, Lane, and all my new learning buddies online, who may or may not agree whether double-ending is ok, or whether going to inspections or not is ok, but who I love to learn with, nonetheless!