That is entirely up to you. When an agent represents both the buyer and the seller it is called â€˜dual agencyâ€™. Whether your agent represents you or the seller or both, they owe you certain fiduciary duties; Obedience - your realtor must obey your instructions unless doing so would be a violation of law or some other ethical duty; Loyalty - Undivided Loyalty (and that is where dual agency becomes tricky, I'll explain in a moment); Disclosure - your agent must disclose everything that is said to him about or during the transaction including confidential information that the other side should not have revealed; Confidentiality - your agent must keep confidential anything YOU tell him, for example, what price you are ultimately willing to pay for the property; Accounting - Your agent must account for any monies entrusted to him during the transaction; and
Reasonable Care - Because your agent is an expert in real estate transactions they must exercise reasonable care to ensure your transaction goes as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.
In a dual agency situation the second duty, undivided loyalty, becomes an issue because, obviously I cannot have undivided loyalty to two parties, right? All the other duties still apply however. What changes is the realtorsâ€™ role. They become more of a mediator and less of a fierce negotiator. They still owe both parties confidentiality, though disclosure gets a little tricky. I explain it to my clients like this, let's say I represent both the buyer and the seller. The seller says, "Suzanne, we are listing our home for sale at $225,000 but we would be happy with an offer of $200,000". I must keep that information confidential. Then the buyer comes along and says, "We are going to initially offer $175,000, but we would be willing to pay $200,000" I have to keep that confidential as well. I am the only one who knows the '-magic number' but I can't tell anyone! So, without disclosing anything to anybody my job becomes getting everyone to $200,000 or very close to that number so that everyone is happy.
By the way, both the seller and the buyer have to consent to my acting as a dual agent, and either one can refuse but since the listing actually belongs to my broker, and not to me, that too can cause problems if you are dealing with a very large brokerage because no agent in their entire organization would be able to represent you. I have had situations where my clients absolutely wanted someone representing them and them alone and contacted me for that purpose. Most of the time, though, clients don't have a problem with dual agency once it is explained to them, as long as they know their agent is trustworthy and understands what they can and cannot do in that capacity. But I do also understand the pitfalls.
In my office, when faced with these situations, we have another agent step in for the purpose of negotiating the price. If home inspection issues arise, we ask that same agent to step in temporarily to negotiate those as well. It's a good compromise.
Realtorsâ€™ adhere to a code of ethics that requires us to put the best interests of our clients ahead of anything else, including our own interests. And, with only a few exceptions, I think we are a pretty honest and ethical group. If you feel your best interests can be represented by the sellersâ€™ agent, then by all means feel free to use them as your agent as well. If not, then find yourself a good buyersâ€™ agent. Itâ€™s really up to you.