With newly clarified rules, some larger brokerages may find their buyers in dual agency situations more often than not. What’s dual agency, you ask? Remember that paper you signed or the discussion we had about agency when we first started working together? Of course you don’t, as the language Realtors® deal in can be very “legal-eze” and we all tend to “skip” hearing things we don’t want to hear and get on with what we want to do – get a good deal on buying or selling property.
In a nutshell, when you are working with a particular agent, you are a client of the agent’s brokerage as well as all the other agents in that brokerage. The agency relationship is between you, the buyer or seller, and the agency/brokerage. “Well, so what”, you say.
If you enter into a dual agency situation, your agent and all other agents in the brokerage go from treating you as a client; owing you the highest duties, including confidentiality, loyalty, due care, and diligence (which includes negotiating the best deal for you and monitoring the process to insure you are always at the front of their actions) to treating you as a customer, where the agents must remain neutral in all negotiations and must not advance the interest of one party over the other. You are now treated as a customer by the brokerage/agent. “Well, so what, my agent’s brokerage isn’t the same brokerage as the listing agent’s brokerage, so there’s no dual agency, right?”, you say.
Sorry to say, buppie, you and your agent can be in a dual agency situation if ANY agent in their brokerage has a property listed that is similar to the property you are trying to purchase. So the house across the street, or in the same neighborhood, and having similarities (that’s where it gets tricky and market knowledge is important) that is listed by another agent in your agent’s brokerage, means you are now in a dual agency situation and your agent “must remain neutral in all negotiations and must not advance the interest of one party over the other”.
You thought that big company had a benefit over others because they have so many listings. As a buyer or a seller, you may have just signed up for dual agency and reduced the services your agent can provide.