Dual Agency – Who benefits?

The Realtor.

One of the primary values a Realtor brings to a transaction is representation – representation of his client’s best interests. How can a Realtor advocate for the best interests of both parties and still maintain the perception of fairness and full representation? In my mind, there is a difference between treating all parties fairly and honestly and being able to advocate with 100% vigor for one party.

Realtors practice dual agency all the time – successfully. Never had I had someone remark how much they appreciated their agent representing both sides. I have been told numerous times by clients how they perceived their agent in a shady, less-than-honest manner because that agent had both the buyer and seller.

Dual agency devalues Exclusive Representation.

In a divorce, would you have the same attorney represent both parties?

Having a client perceive that my loyalties were less than 100% is simply not worth whatever amount of money I might make. My reputation and high percentage of repeat business are far too valuable.

* As I was researching another post, I came across this post on Dual Agency. I read just the headline before writing this post, as I didn’t want to be influenced.  It’s good to see others talking about this issue. After finishing my post, I revisited his site and was compelled to add this:

So why does Dual Agency even exist?
Because brokers want to double-dip on their own listings. In the bad old days, the buyer was not represented at all. “Your” agent would act like your champion, but he was always the sub-agent of the listing broker, even if he worked for another brokerage. Every agent was working for the seller, and nobody was working for the buyer. It made no difference to the buyer who sold the home. The buyer was without representation anyway.

Representing one party in a transaction is difficult enough.

*Note: I do not say that I will “never” practice dual agency, as the situation may arise where both parties are best served by my representing both sides. I cannot foresee that happening, but feel that “never” may be short-sighted.

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17 Comments

  1. Greg Swann July 17, 2006 at 16:12

    Thanks for the feedback. On the subject of “never say never,” our policy as a brokerage is now no dual agency, ever. We refer out buyers who want to buy our listings. But I have very proudly done dual agency in the past. I was helping a friend in an awkward circumstance make a dfficult transition. The owner of the property we bought had just passed on, and I persuaded the heirs to let me represent both parties, taking no compensation on either side. The selllers got top dollar with no sales commissions, the buyer got the home she wanted without the risk of losing it to another buyer. Plus, everything was done in no time flat. At the end of the process, everyone knew it was win-win. That’s a successful and completely ethical dual agency.

  2. Jim Duncan July 18, 2006 at 08:01

    Greg –

    Thank you – that is the perfect of example of why I prefer to “never say never.” Dual agency can be done successfully and ethically. The behavior that troubles me is those agents who actively seek out dual agency time and time again. Putting potential profit ahead of the clients’ best interest is a disservice to all.

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