Agent A and Agent B both work for the same agency. Agent A has a listing that Agent B's client is interested in. Isn't it NOT in the best

Asked by Homebuyer044, Scranton, PA Mon Feb 6, 2012

interest of Agent B's client to work with that agency AT ALL and find a different agency to represent them? Do agents in the same company work against each other in this situation?

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Erica Ramus, MRE’s answer
Erica Ramus,…, Agent, Pottsville, PA
Tue Feb 7, 2012
Agents in the same company should be able to each work to get the house sold and the buyer in the house. Period. Each one should protect their client's best interests, confidentiality, etc. It is in the best interest of both parties to work together to make this happen.
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Benny Smith, Agent, Pittsburgh, PA
Tue Feb 7, 2012
When agents work against each others clients lose. Agents should work together no mater their company..
The point is to protect your clients interest.
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Peter Lamand…, Other Pro, Scranton, PA
Mon Feb 6, 2012
This will be long & I'm sorry. Great question. Little background from where I will be coming from ... I'm a broker & owner & a licensed RE instructor in PA. I often instruct agents & educate buyers on this topic. 

What you are referring to is called dual agency in PA. Which is perfectly legal and acceptable in PA. 

The first thing to know is if the office is practicing dual agency with what is called a designated agent. If the office policy allows for dual agency (Some do not) & the practices allow for a designated agent then the listing agent or in some cases multiple agents in the office are working for the seller. The agent(s) have a fiduciary duty to keep the sellers best interests in mind. Let's assume that in your example only the listing agent is designated to represent the seller. Then that agent has to be careful to not disclose or make available to the other agents in the office the position of the seller, their motivations & any confidential knowledge that could harm the seller's negotiations. The office should have a public file with the MLS sheet, property disclosure and any "public" info. And kept in a private file things such as the listing contract, the CMA that was prepared at listing and any other notes or papers that if a buyer had access to would serve to harm the seller.

If this practice is followed then an agent in the same firm could represent a buyer work for them & not harm the seller.

The Buyer's agent would have their client's private info in a private file. 

The Broker in this situation would be a dual agent and the Broker must ensure that neither party has access to the private info but technically the Broker represents. Both parties.

Typically, but not always, agents are independent contractors & computations with each other in & out of the office. Think of it like the US Olympic sprinting team in Track & field. Two runners may both run on the Olympic team, they may train together & they want each other to do well but when race time comes they are both running to win and all bets are off.

Now if the office policy does not allow designated agents then all agents in the office work for the seller and if you utilize their services then the agents is a dual agent. An agent can not unlearn what they know or switch sides mid way. If they were ever representing that client in that transaction then they are a dual agent & that would need to be disclosed.

If the office policy does not allow dual agency... Then if you choose to work with that firm then you are unrepresented and anything you tell the agent could & should be told to the seller.

If you want to be represented there is nothing wrong with going to the listing office & selecting an agent different from the listing agent.

But you must ask if the office practices dual agency & if the agent does now or has ever represented the seller as their agent.

Alternately, you can select a separate buyer's agent from a separate office. Be sure you engage them formally under an agreement as if you are not under a written or oral buyer's agency contract then technically the agent form the other firm may be a sub agent for the seller. I won't get into sub agency for the sake of keeping simple as possible. Needless to say if you want representation sub agency is not what you are looking for.

The short answer to your question is YES Agents do compete against each other in the same office all the time.

I will say that the above example is a best practice situation. I hate to say but I have met many Brokers & Agents that DO NOT clearly understand dual/designated agency & think they are practicing it correctly and are actually violating their fiduciary duties.

Hopefully if you had these sort of questions over the phone the agent read you the following...

The Real Estate Law requires that I provide you with a written consumer notice that describes the various business relationship choices that you may have with a real estate licensee. Since we are discussing real estate without you having the benefit of the Consumer Notice, I have the duty to advise you that any information you give me at this time is not considered to be confidential, and any information you give me will not be considered confidential unless and until you and I enter into a business relationship. At our first meeting I will provide you with a written consumer notice which explains those business relationships and my corresponding duties to you.

Or if you met in person first they provided you with a copy of the consumer notice which describes the various business relationships allowed in PA.

If they did neither that is a big red flag...

I practice in Scranton & I am a accredited buyers agent (ABR) I would be happy to help you further if I can. 

Peter N. Lamandre
Better by Design Real Estate, LLC
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Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Mon Feb 6, 2012

You may be reading too much into this......ethical standards and guidelines are in place to protect parties involved. Agents find themselves in this situation all of the time. It's a matter of the seller establishing a price, a buyer making an offer, and the parties negotiating the final agreement. The buyer and seller actually drive the transaction while the agents facilitate. Only the buyer and seller have the right to accept the terms of the agreement.

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Erica Ramus,…, Agent, Pottsville, PA
Mon Feb 6, 2012
Sorry, designated agency? This matters. Is the agent under dual agency or designated agency?
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Vicky Chrisn…, Agent, Purcellvile, VA
Mon Feb 6, 2012
It depends. If it is a large office, very often the agents do not work as a team and don't know anymore about specific transactions or clients than if they worked for different offices. That is the case with my current office. In that case, I think it's just fine. In VA this is called Designated Agency. Having said this - in smaller offices the agents may very well be working as a team and sharing details that would be relevant amongst one another - and then it *may* cause a conflict of interest. One would hope the agent would speak up and be honest if that were the case.
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Erica Ramus,…, Agent, Pottsville, PA
Mon Feb 6, 2012
It depends. Does the agency / brokerage practice desinated agency or not?
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