What are the disadvantages of dual agency from a seller's point of view? Why would a seller agree to this?

Asked by Sell4u, Atlantic City, NJ Wed Aug 5, 2009

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Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Thu Aug 6, 2009
Sell4u Hi

You are in NJ, so agents from other states may mean well, but they are not aware of how this issue is handled here. In NJ, prior to listing your home, you will be asked to sign a Consumer Information Statement that explains that the agent will be working with you as either a seller's agent OR a disclosed dual agent IF , I repeat IF, the opportunity arises.

The "opportunity arises" when ANYONE from that company shows your home - NOT just your agent, but any agent in the company. If you don't agree to sign allowing dual agency, then agents from that company cannot show your home. I know of NO SELLER who has refused to sign this form allowing dual agency.

There is no reason to fear being in a dual agency relationship. The agents cannot put the rights of one party above that of the other party. Everyone is treated fairly. All of this is clearly explained to you in the CIS form you sign. There is also a space for it on most MLS forms.

If an agent is professional, their "title" will not affect how your transaction is handled. I have seen plenty of declared "sellers" agents not act appropriately in representing their clients, and conversely, I have seen "buyers" agents sharing more information than they should about their clients,. and not acting appropriately. So...what one calls themself doesn't assure proper representation. It's their level of professionalism, knowledge and skills that will make the difference.

The goal is to help create a meeting of the minds between the parties. As a listing agent, I often get leads on my listings - I have no problem handling that, and treating each party fairly. When in a dual agency situation, I am allowed to give market information, comparable sales and discuss the entire process with the buyer. I am allowed to tell the seller how qualified the buyer is and present their offer in the best light.

As a dual agent, I cannot state that the buyer will pay more than they are currently offering, or that the seller will take less than the listing price (something that I have seen so-called sellers agents do often).

This information is discovered by negotiating, just as with any other sale. I am still legally bound to disclose any material defects that are in the home, and this is done in advance via a written and signed seller's disclosure.

The bottom line is, whether others agree with dual agency or not, it is alive and well in NJ, and not something that should prevent you from moving forward.

If you'd like to discuss this further, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I don't cover your area, so I'm not after your listing!! Just trying to help...............

Best wishes with your sale!

Debbie Rose
Prudential NJ Properties
2 votes
Debbi(pa), Both Buyer And Seller, 08247
Tue Aug 25, 2009
When in doubt, keep your freinds close, but your agent(s) closer. Just kidding. But do keep in mind that everyone's in business to make money and that is fine. HOWEVER, until the sale, it is your house and your business what you decide. While I believe that most agents are ethical, it does surprise me that these apparent conflicts of interest are allowed in no other business that I can think of. In my case, one agent I interviewed had a spouse as the only partner and mocked my questions. Needless to say, that agency did not make the cut. All agents should remain sensitive to a homeowner's concerns. For most of us, this is our largest financial investment and we deserve respect for the blood, sweat and tears that are often expended on our properties. And every penney we can get.
0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Fri Aug 7, 2009
James, with all due respect, whether you think the practice of dual agency should be legal or not really isn't the issue.

In NJ it IS legal, and if you bother to read what I have posted, you will see that your opinion is irrelevant in answering this person's question, nor does it help him in any way. Take up your concerns with the NJ legislature!

0 votes
James Joseph, , 06281
Fri Aug 7, 2009
Hi Sell4u,

There are absolutely no advantages for the seller. It is a one sided situation that favors the agent only.
When an agent practices dual agency they double their income and bail out on their sworn Fiduciary relationship with the seller. The agent changes from working in the seller's best interest to working as a facilitator in the agents best interest. Look at it this way, when an agent becomes a dual agent ( or as I like ti refer to them as "A DOUBLE AGENT") you now pay them more money but receive less representaion. More for less. Their best interest NOT yours! This practice should be made illegal.

Hope this helps,
James Joseph
Author REAL ESTATE 3.0
0 votes
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Fri Aug 7, 2009
Hi Lori, yes it is interesting to see how these issues play out in different states.

To answer your question in regard to a pre-approval, I will present , whether I am a dual agent or a buyer's agent, whatever pre-approval letter the buyer has provided (either obtaining it on their own or through my in-house mortgage rep.). I don't verbally represent what they can spend - it is in writing. I find many buyers ask to have their pre-approval written soley to conform with their offer - they then have it revised and increased as their offer increases. Others start right off away with a pre-approval for the maximum amount they are approved for.

Example................I just had an agent present an offer on a listing of mine (not dual agency) the offer was for $610,000, house listed at 645,000, yet the pre-app. the agent provided stated they were qualified up to 650,000. This was encouraging, as we knkew the buyer COULD go up, but that didn't insure that he would go up (and he didn't)! As I always explain to any buyer or seller,that just because someone CAN afford a certain number, doesn't mean they want to spend that much, so there is no problem dealing with approval's in any situation. I don't treat it any differently whether I am a dual agent or buyers agent.

As an aside, in regard to designated buyers agents doing such a great job of representing their buyers - let's be honest - ever hear a buyers agent say: "This is only their starting offer", when presenting an offer?, or "M y buyers already sold their home, and really need to buy? That information possibly shouldn't be stated, unless the buyer has given permission, .....yet many do share that, probably without permission. Ever hear a seller's agent tell you their listing was overpriced?? I have heard that....not exactly what one should hear from the seller's agent! But, it happens. Yet, everyone gets all nervous when they hear "dual agency", as if what you call yourself makes a difference in how well the buyer or seller is represented! That's why I said the title we are given doesn't mean as much as the QUALITY of the agent!

We do not have a " dual agency" versus "designated representative". You are either a sellers agent, buyers agent or disclosed dual agent. I have read a few posts here on Trulia from NJ agents stating that you can just show a company listing, but still be a buyer's agent. Not in my company, and we are one of the larger companies in the state. I always wonder where they came up with that. Part of agency involves sharing what you know. If I am at my desk, and I overhear another agent on the phone discussing what the seller might take, or their motivation for selling, as a buyers agent, I am duty bound to share what I know. As a dual agent, I can't do that. Therein lies one possible conflict of trying to be a buyer's agent with in- house listings.
Bottom line is - the CIS forms we have people sign make it clear what our positions may be.

If a problem arises, or there are multiple offers, one of which one is mine, my manager or another agent can step in during negotiations . Even though that person is still considered a dual agent, it is someone that can discuss the merits of all offers or just be there as support.

Truthfully, a lot of people here like having their agent handle everything, They feel a comfort level knowing the agent they trust most will be overseeing everything. I guess it;s just what is customary and usual in your area or state. Here it's not a big deal.- it's the way it is.

A lot of agents in my area even present themselves as ...: "I sell xx% of my own listings" , and wear that as a badge!

I have stated here on Trulia that it's not my preference to sell my own listings, as in any transaction, there can always be complications, and you never want one side to be upset or think you are favoring the other side. (I have seen buyers and sellers become upset with their OWN agents too) It's a delicate dance, but one that can be handled well and result in everyone being happy. Afterall, who signs a contract if they aren't satisfied with the terms?

Lori, I have a question for you - when you list a home, and you get a lead from the internet, the sign or if you already have a buyer that home would be perfect for - how do you handle that without being a dual agent? Do you hand that buyer off to another agent? Isn't the purpose of any kind of advertising or signage to bring in buyers? Here on Trulia, my name and contact information is there with my listing information ....what should I do with the leads it generates if they want to see or possibly buy my listing ?

OK, I am done!! This isn't the most excitig topic, and I thnk I have exhausted it by now! haaaa!!
Have a great weekend. all..........sell lots of houses!
0 votes
Lori Jeltema, Agent, Suffolk, VA
Fri Aug 7, 2009
Debbie, if you are representing both parties and the buyer qualifies for $400 but is offering $330, do you disclose that the buyer is qualified for $400? I don't mean what they are willing to pay or what the house is listed for, just what they qualify for? Our listings also have the possibilty of dual agency in each listing since we want agents in our office to show the listing but 99% of the time they will be representing their own buyer. When the buyer comes straight to the listing agent, I think it's better just to have them as a customer. Is allowed by you? The biggest problems I've seen with having dual agency and not designated representatives is when a crisis comes up and each party wants someone soley in their corner. You are correct, though, that everyplace is different. I really think it's interesting how varied it is.
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Francesca Pa…, Agent, Manasquan, NJ
Thu Aug 6, 2009

This is a "hot topic". I have Realtor friends both for and against the topic, both of which have good points both for and against dual agency and I am told that NJ is one of a few states that allow dual agency. Most recently, I had a friend/broker who found herself in a position to ask another agent within the firm to take over negotiations because she had 2 buyers bidding for the same property to which she had listed . . . and that is the ethical thing to do.

Aside from the typical rhetoric, I might add that it cannot hurt to sign a dual agency agreement as I have found that many buyers prefer to deal with the listing agent (not sure why - probably something here on the net that advocates such practices). If you agree to sign a dual agency agreement, I might advise that you not discuss your bottom line (lowest rice you will accept) with the listing agent. This may give you peace of mind as to the listing agent's motives.

Frankly, I don't see any disadvantages with this agreement (but, I'm sure many will disagree) as long as you have a listing agent who is looking out for your best interests, you evaulaute the overal situation (including current comparables) and know the value of your home.

Love and Peace,
Francesca, Realtor, ePro
Web Reference:  http://www.PatrizioRE.com
0 votes
Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Wed Aug 5, 2009
If the seller is presented with an offer, and that offer happens to be from the same brokerage and the listing agent (L/A) which only happens about 10% of the time, the question that would come to your mind is the same as any offer....is it the best offer?

If YOUR agent is representing both parties, then it would be fair to ask yourself, "can they represent fairly the interests of both parties?". If it's a great offer, you could ask your agent to arrange to have another agent in their office represent the buyer (that's what I would do).
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Kacey Stewar…, , 07059
Wed Aug 5, 2009
As Lori mentioned, dual agency refers to agents working within the same company not necessarily one agent representing both the buyer and the seller.

If by some chance that occurs, some may feel they will not be represented fairly or properly. The fact of the matter is that you chose your agent to represent you for many solid reasons. If you are so confident in your agent representing you on one side, why not feel comfortable in him/her taking care of both sides. Choosing an agent to represent you is the most important decision in the process. You want to make sure you choose someone who is loyal, dedicated, hard working, and full-time...among some of the necessary qualities.

Bottom line is you want to sell your house and if someone from the same agency has a customer that would like to purchase it that is great. If the listing agent you hired to represent you and your home ends up having the buyer that's great too....because the end result is your house selling.

Good Luck!
0 votes
Lori Jeltema, Agent, Suffolk, VA
Wed Aug 5, 2009
I think he is referring to simply dual agency, not dual agency with designated representatives. Sell4u, if another agent that just happens to work for the same company finds a buyer for your home, they can then represent that buyer and your agent represents you. Technically, since they work for the same company, the brokerage is the 'dual agent' but you still have separate representation and privacy. Two agents in the same office representing two different people will fight just as hard for their buyer client and seller client as those coming from different offices.
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Camille Mill…, , Flemington, NJ
Wed Aug 5, 2009
Because if you don't no agent from the brand you signed the listing agreement with can sell your house so all those sign calls go no where and no open houses either. You would have to rely on the other brands to bring you a qualified buyer. Is this what you want?

Camille Miller
0 votes
Lori Jeltema, Agent, Suffolk, VA
Wed Aug 5, 2009
Hmm, say you list your property with an agent who later represents the purchaser of your home. The buyer of your home has a house to sell so there is a kick out clause. Your listing agent then receives an offer from another broker, representing another buyer that is $10,000 higher than the contract you have. Your agent represents you, so your agent should be doing everything in his/her power to enforce the kick out, get the first contract released and get you another offer. However, your agent represents the buyer and should be doing everything contractually possible to keep that buyer in the deal. What a problem. What if the buyer passed a contract deadline that would technically allow you to terminate and take the next deal? If someone else was representing that buyer, you bet that they would never bring up the missed deadline - hoping your agent missed it. What would your agent do? Bring up the missed deadline so you can move on to another contract or keep quiet? At this point, being told that the agent is dual and simply facilitating is not going to make either party feel protected. I could think of 50 different scenarios just as problematic.
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Gina, , Turnersville, NJ
Wed Aug 5, 2009

Some seller's may feel it is a conflict of interest when an agent represents both seller & buyer.
However when an agent markets a property, the mutual goal is to get it sold. So if they obtain an interested buyer and as long as the agent remains neutral and fair to both sides, the transaction can go very smoothly.

Good Luck!
Gina Fagnani
Century 21 Hearst Realty
0 votes
Natasa Glamo…, Agent, Brookfield, WI
Wed Aug 5, 2009
What the seller would not like: 1. The seller might not like the fact that the agent can not disclose the confidential information that he/she may know about buyers, because he/she must treat both sides equally.
2. The agent also can not disclose the price the buyer is willing to accept without the permission of the buyer.

Why the seller would agree to all this? Because he wants to sell the property to all buyers, no matter from what side they are coming (his or the other agent).
0 votes
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