This is a kind of public service message I write at the beginning of every year when Boston condo buyers come out of hibernation and get serious about looking at some downtown Boston real estate for sale. .
Here are some basics:
In Massachusetts, most agents will be working for you, the seller, as a “listing agent” and for you, the buyer, as a “buyer’s agent”. Make sure you know, beforehand. If your agent is a “subagent”, he or she is working on behalf of the seller, not you.
It’s important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transaction. Ask what type of agency relationship your agent has with you
Represents and is acting for the seller only. Maybe a listing agent or any REALTOR® licensed to the listing broker or a selling subagent.
A broker or salesperson who is working with a buyer, but represents the seller.
Representing and acting for the buyer only. As with a listing contract with sellers, an agreement for buyer representation must be in writing.
If you list your Boston condo for sale with a real estate agent and that agent brings in an offer from a buyer that she is representing you now have dual agency which means that the agent cannot represent the buyer or the seller but instead becomes a facilitator.
One licensee representing both the seller and the buyer as clients in one transaction, or two agents licensed to the same broker, one of whom represents the seller and one of whom represents the buyer in one transaction. This requires full disclosure and informed consent of both parties. Dual agents have a limited role, must not advocate or negotiate for either party and must not act to the detriment of either party.
A real estate licensee who works for a buyer, a seller, or both in a transaction but does not represent either in a fiduciary capacity as a Buyer’s Broker, Seller’s Broker or Dual Agent. Facilitators may perform services for consumers, but do not represent them. Facilitators are bound by license law and common law but owe only the fiduciary duty of confidentiality unless other fiduciary duties are agreed to between licensee and consumer.
I am both a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent. I encounter situations where I am asked to play both roles in a single transaction. I have represented both parties in a transaction but I prefer not to. Dual agency is a bit different in than buyers agency or sellers agency in that the agent can not advocate or negotiate for either party. Takes the fun out of it for me, and I still believe that both parties are better off if they each have their own agent.
As a Boston real estate broker, I find that my experience as a buyer’s agent and as a seller’s agent helps me with both roles. When it comes to negotiating an offer no matter which side I am representing I have a clear understanding of what the other party might want, or how they might be feeling about it all.
Real estate is about people and buying or selling property is a large and important transaction, and there are always emotions involved. Having experience with sellers helps me advise buyers and having experience with buyers helps me advise sellers and understand how to market their home. I can see the home through the buyer’s eyes, just as I can see the buyer’s offer from the seller’s point of view.
If I were choosing an agent I would not consider it an advantage to work with an agent that is not representing both parties in the transaction. I would consider it an advantage to have my own agent representing my best interests instead of an agent who is operating in the dual agency role and representing both parties.