Listing turn-key Homestead home in May. What should I be aware of if broker represents both seller & buyer?

Asked by Betty Fegen, California Tue Apr 10, 2012

Turn-key, very appealing/charming per multiple & various professionals
3 bed, 2 bath
list price ~$950K

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Audrey Moira…, Agent, Tiburon, CA
Fri Aug 30, 2013
From the viewpoint of an experienced listing broker, it is always a "tightrope" to represent both sides. It takes a special buyer and seller and agent to have this work to everyone's satisfaction.
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Wayka Bartol…, Agent, Corte Madera, CA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
the most important factor in dual agency is that it is very hard for one agent to represent both parties. It becomes especially hard to feel that during negotiations on inspections and price, your agent is really on your side, whether you are the seller or the buyer. Usually, the agent acts more like a messanger than an advocate for either party. Also, what kind of relationship does the agent have with either of the principals? If the agent has known the buyer very well, there may be some favoritism. I always establish at the onset of the listing whether or not the seller would feel comfortable in a dual agency situation. Nine of out ten times, I personally choose not to get into a dual agency situaion. I then refer a buyer to a "buyer's agent" that i work with in my office.
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John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Tue Apr 10, 2012
I believe what Liz meant was "dual agency" - not "duel agency." Although agents may be at odds with each other sometimes, they seldom challenge each other to armed combat.
Liz brings up a good point - in California the buyer and seller can be in a dual agency relationship, even if each has their own agent, if both agents work for the same broker. Without getting too far into details, all California real estate transactions go through brokers, not agents. Agents simply act as representatives of their broker in the process of serving their clients. For this reason, I always recommend that buyers and sellers use agents from completely different offices.
Some will argue that as long as each party has their own agent they are properly represented. It doesn't matter - if both agents work for the same broker dual agency exists and must be disclosed. Others have stated the risks involved in dual agency. My recommendation is to never use two agents from the same office on the same transaction - it's dual agency.
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Tom Davis, Agent, Mill Valley, CA
Tue Apr 10, 2012
An agent representing adverse parties (both the seller and the buyer) in a transaction is rife with pitfalls and ethical questions related to an agent's fiduciary duties, so it's a tricky proposition, but surprisingly, not a totally uncommon one. You need to be aware that by agreeing to dual agency (with a single agent versus a company), you give up your right to the agent's undivided loyalty. A part of an agent's fiduciary duties are to put their clients interests ahead of all others, including their own, but in dual agency, their fiduciary duties are compromised by representing both sides. The age-old question is, How can you possibly represent the best interests of your client faithfully when you represent two separate adverse parties? Essentially, the agent becomes an intermediary in a way. You lose their skill, knowledge and insight to help you make the best decision during the process. While dual agency opens the door to some unethical possibilities, that's not to say that some dual agency transactions don't go through smoothly, without a hitch. Some do, you just need to be aware of the changes in the agents duties to you and of the possible issues surrounding such an arrangement. There's additional risk for everyone involved, including the agent. To avoid this conflict of interest and the inherent risks, many listing agents will refer the buyer side to another agent, so they can perform their duties faithfully and loyally to one particular client. I think most would agree that's the ideal situation.
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss in detail, give me a call at (415) 847-2845

Tom Davis
Coldwell Banker
Born, Raised and current Homestead resident
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Liz Williams…, Agent, Sausalito, CA
Tue Apr 10, 2012
I think there should be a clarification that I am not seeing between who is a broker and an agent. The answers given are referring to an agent who has his license under a broker. Ie I am an agent whose license is with Frank Howard Allen. If the listing agent is also representing the buyer ( duel agency) it is in the best interest of both parties to have separate agents.
However, it is common to have separate agents representing a buyer and seller who are under the same broker (Frank Howard Allen). This is also considered duel agency. The difference between th two is that both parties have an agent whose sole best interest is their client. A broker will always disclose to both buyer and seller that there is still duel agency because both agents are under the same broker. The most important issue is that both the,buyer and seller still have two different agents representing them.
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Phillipa Cri…, Agent, Tiburon, CA
Tue Apr 10, 2012
An agent is suposed to be "in the shoes of" their client, be it a seller or buyer. It is dificult to be in two sets of shoes at the same time. In small communities where there are not many real estate agents I can see that sometimes dual agency is done. However, in Marin County ,there are plenty of agents to choose from, one to represent the buyer and one to represent the seller.
Good luck, any further questions (415) 613-2817
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John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Tue Apr 10, 2012
1) You should be aware that when a dual-agency situation occurs a serious conflict of interest is present. 2) You should be aware, as a buyer or seller, that you have the power to avoid dual-agency situations. You cannot be forced to use a particular agent, you always have a choice.
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Matthew Thom…, Agent, Larkspur, CA
Tue Apr 10, 2012
As per the DRE regulations and the Realtor code of ethics, the broker has a fiduciary duty to the client whose property they list. There are many good agents that can and have successfully been a dual agent in the transfer of real estate. However, my first question is if the agent was brought to you by a potential buyer, or were they someone you have been associated with prior to having the buyer brought to you? I would say that if it seems that you are being asked for what seems to be excessive repairs or concessions, then there could be a problem.

The first thing to do is hire someone you trust. How much experience do they have? Are they a local agent that knows the area? How many transactions have they done? Do they have references? If after acquiring this information and if you feel comfortable with the agent, then I would move forward.


Matthew Thomas
Bradley Real Estate
Lic. #01334223
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Paul Bragstad, Agent, Mill Valley, CA
Tue Apr 10, 2012
Our company Pacific Union International represents more buyers and sellers in Mill Valley than any other broker, so dual agency comes up alot. One company representing the buyer & seller is not often a problem. One agent representing the interests of both the buyer and the seller is much more difficult. It is difficult for the agent to use full force to advocate for your interest in price, terms, and inspections. My wife and I would refer a buyer for our listing to another agent to eliminate this potential conflict.If you would like us to do a free market analysis if your come, you can reach us at 415-246-5060. Best Regards, Paul Bragstad
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