Question Details

Blair &…, Real Estate Pro in Highlands, NC

Husband & wife own office.Husband is listing agent.Wife has buyer.Can she be buyers agent for his listing?

Asked by Blair & Margaret Heinlein, Highlands, NC Mon Feb 11, 2008

Help the community by answering this question:


I am in New York and we do allow both dual and designated agency when fully disclosed.

However, in the situation you gave the other agent is the wife and so has a vested interest in the earnings of her husband not to mention her ownership interest in the company.

As a matter of practice she really can't fully represent the best interest of the buyer. I would hope she is disclosing all of the conflicts of interest to her buyer.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 12, 2008
The way I am reading the question is that they own the real estate office, not the listing.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
Margaret it all depends on the real estate laws in your state. In North Carolina as long as there is full disclosure and both parties agree then yes. It that case the office is in dual agency but the agents themselves are representing their respective clients.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 12, 2008
I am not an attorney, nor a broker in your state.
If the husband is a broker, and his wife works under his license as a Realtor, then there are a couple of things that you should know:
The listing actually belongs to the broker. Any Realtor that works for a Broker is an agent of that broker.
So, if the husband is the listing agent, and his wife brings the buyer, you probably still have what we would call "dual agency". That means that both buyer and seller are represented by the same brokerage.

The challenge is that most lawsuits are filed by buyers because they feel that something was not disclosed to them. Having your own agent to rrepresent you as the buyer I think is critical Now, can both the buyer's agent and the listing agent work for the same broker? Yes, it needs to be disclosed up front.

In some states, dual agency is prohibited. That could mean that it be illegal for the same broker to represent both buyer and seller, even if different agents are actually representing the parties.

The primary concern in your question is: does the buyer feel that they are receiving the best representation? Do you as the seller feel you are being fairly represented?
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 11, 2008
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
Ok, Gary. Now we need to see a photo of you wearing a flight suit! (If you're going to brag you have to back it up!)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
Yes, as others have stated it depends on the laws in your state. In CT, we must disclose the buyer and seller position and if this exists then each party is given the dual representation documents to determine if this qualifies and if the agency is licensed to represent. An attorney is the best to decide this before moving forward.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
Replying to nwagent:

Can it be done? In New York with full disclosure, sure. Can she "represent" the buyer offering full loyalty, obediance, and confidentiality? Really? Her husband has the listing and they both are the principal brokers? Dual agency with full disclosure at best, but probably not a great idea. No one is looking out for the best interest of the buyer. The broker should probably assign it to another agent in the office.

Are builders going to act in the best interest of the buyer of their properties? No. They can't and I would not expect them to. It is their job to move their inventory. That is why it is best for buyers to have an agent representing them especially when they are buying new construction.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 12, 2008
I am not sure what your state's agency law is. In South Carolina, the wife could be either a dual agent or a designated agent for the buyer. In designated agency, she could give the buyer full agency duties. In dual agency, she could give the buyer limited agency duties.

However, there are real liabilities for designated agency if either buyer or seller feel they aren't being properly represented.

Hope that helps.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 11, 2008
It may not be a popular suggestion from an office/owner point of view but for a small office situation like this perhaps having a pre-existing agreement with another firm to avoid conflicts might be advisable. Then they could do the same for the other firm. In MA it would depend upon the type of agency praticed in the office. Either way this situation should've been discussed with both clients prior to this situation occuring and what will happen when it does.

Just my idea
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
Well, I can make that happen, but are you willing to pay the price? If you are, you will be whisked away to your favorite computer terminal where you will be subjected to the soothing sounds of my Real Estate Coaching Show. Maybe even call in.

Actually, My engineer is in Iraq right now, and we have taken the studio down and are improving every aspect, from the studio equipment to the websites.

(We had a crash due to the volume on the websites and so he is re-building them in a sturdier format, whatever that means. My website building knowledge is ooohhhh...pointy

I will re-launch the show in a few weeks and then it will all be back up and running. I will post on the site when I do and then you can see the photos.

Gary De Pury
Bay Vista Realty & Investments, Inc.
Chairman, Communications Committee
Director, Florida Association of REALTORS.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
I am re-examining the question. "Husband & wife own office. Husband is listing agent. Wife has buyer. Can she be buyers agent for his listing?" Margret, do you mean Husband and wife own office and are selling office or do you mean that Husband and wife own brokerage and Husband has "A" listing.

My sincere apologies to all who answered the question as I have re-phrased it. I answered the question as I read it as it is written.

Then the best answer is from Keith. The Broker owns the listing. There are some hurdles to overcome, but basically this is the same as a Dual agency or Transaction broker.

Maybe I should have has that second cup of coffee. Please understand, as some of you get to know me on this forum, I come from a background where the way something is written is often the difference a soldier taking one route or another and the most minor difference could be fatal.

I am now of the opinion that I misread the intent of the original question. But I would still lie some clarification.

Oh, and I own my office, and it ain't for sale.

Gary De Pury
Bay Vista Realty & Investments, Inc.
Chairman, Communications Committee
Director, Florida Association of REALTORS.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
In closing here...You either have a dishonest side or know a lot of agents that are. That is horrible! Yes, I have been lucky to work with real professionals that put their client first, not their pocketbook. I'm not a newbe, over 10 years in the business and never even an inquiery. No cold calling after I became an agent, my phone rang off the hook. I'm a recent transplant to Texas from Washington due to a military transfer. It's sad to read so many agents are so untrusting of the caliber of agents they work with. Remember, we do have laws in place to prevent the lowlife agent from getting away with non-disclosure. From what some of you are saying is: couples should never own their own office or they need to longer represent buyers. UNREAL!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
I always have a great day...If you saw yourself in my reply that is one you.

Please don't be offended by my remarks, I did read all of the answers and it was obvious to me that almost everyone address the question of DUAL AGENCY which was not asked. I am a smart A## by nature, but that is why people pay me to coach them. That and I look great in a flight suit...

Buyers Agency is the question on the table. It is legally impossible to represent the buyer as a BUYERS AGENT on a property where you are the owner.

Now, if your answer is NO, Not as a buyers agent, but you might be able to do it as a dual agent, or transaction broker, then that answer is more clearly worded. Most likely still wrong, and 100% wrong in the 11 states that I have checked thus far. (All of the states covered in this thread are included in those)

Lastly, the question being what it is, the real questions should be, given that the person asking OWNS the property in whole or in part.

Can I sell a property I own? YES.

Can I represent the Buyer? NO.

Can I earn a commission on the property? Yes, but not as a buyers agent.

Can the mere term "Buyers Agent" get me in trouble with my State License board or commission? YES.

Can I legally complete this transaction without an outside agent? Yes.

DO I have to do any additional paperwork? Yes. You must notify the buyer that you represent yourself.

Do I need to contact an attorney? NO, but I sure as heck would.

Why should I trust you? You shouldn't! Call an Attorney!

I would challenge each of you to contact your state legal hotline and get the best answer and lets all meet again with those answers. It will be a great blog.

Gary De Pury
Bay Vista Realty & Investments, Inc.
Chairman, Communications Committee
Director, Florida Association of REALTORS.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008

Respectfully, maybe you should also re-read some of the responses.

I wrote that she cannot "represent" the buyer (a/k/a being a buyers agent). She can at best (or worst) in my opinion be a dual agent in New York, but even that is a tricky tight-rope to walk.

By the way, I have yet to give anyone a thumbs up or down for that matter. I save those for when I need to critique a movie.

Have a great day!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
Maybe I misread the question. Allow me to re-read it...............both own..............uh huh.......yep.....BUYERS AGENT.............Listing.

Again, I answer NO. I saw I got some down votes on my post and a few folks said....sure with Full Disclosure. That would be a negatory there Skippy.

This is like going into a liquor store and saying, empty the cash register into this bag, BUT I am FULLY disclosing to you that I am robbing you.....

Robbery is against the law and so is acting as a BUYERS AGENT on a parcel that you own and are selling.

Wait....Let me read the question one more time. Hold on.....I better borrow some eye glasses......

Getting coffee......

Refresh my screen.......

Nope the question still says "BUYERS AGENT"

Go ahead and vote me down...but for all of those who said Sure, just your advisor, attorney, broker, or state legal hotline and check your info.

Oh, and stay out of liquor stores until you are certain. If you are going to vote down my answer, please do so because you don't like my humor and are offended and not because you disagree.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 13, 2008
I would never say for a builder to represent themself, however, having a licensed agent list the properties (family or not) there shouldn't be a problem if this is allowed in your state. It comes down to ethics and professionalism. There are many husband/wife teams selling/listing homes and are honest. There shouldn't be reason to ?? them unless they come across dishonest. Maybe I've been lucky enough to work with professional agents, brokers and builders. This may seem rare, however, it's not. Happy hunting!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 12, 2008
Depends on the laws within the state you live. If proper disclosure is given to all parties there isn't anything wrong with this. One would hope there is professional ethics going on here. Others within the same office sell properties listed inhouse, so what's the problem? I know of builders that have their wife list their properties. These are professionals with ethics. One could lose their license if they don't abide by real estate laws. There is nothing wrong with this practice.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 12, 2008
No! You cannot represent the BUYER on a property that you own and are selling. You can complete the transaction and do it without any issues, but you must in most states provide notice to the BUYER that you own the property and that you are representing yourself in the transaction.

Ex: In Florida, if you represent a seller on a property and then decide to buy it yourself, you must notify the seller in writing that you now represent yourself and that your prior transactional capacity (single Agent, Transaction agent, etc.) no longer applies. I hope this helps.
To be safe, contact your attorney and get a FIRST opinion as mine is second to his/hers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 12, 2008
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