Monday, January 4, 2016
By Jed Williams
Knowing the Complexities of Dual Agency

Differences throughout the metro area can be confusing

Agency is a relationship that many buyers and sellers don’t consider to be complicated, but situations can arise that create difficulties. Especially in the metro area where agents frequently serve customers and clients across all three jurisdictions and all three jurisdictions have different language in their laws, these relationships can be confusing. For example, dual agency in Maryland refers to the same singular agent serving both the seller and the buyer in a single transaction, which is illegal in Maryland. In D.C. and Virginia, however, dual agency refers to the same broker having contracts with both the seller and the buyer in a single transaction, and is completely legal, which is also true in Maryland. It is legal in D.C. and Virginia for a single agent to represent both the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

In all three jurisdictions, if a seller’s agent is approached by a buyer to purchase the seller’s home, that agent needs to fully disclose his relationship to both parties. He needs to either get written consent of both parties to handle the transaction himself (only in DC or VA) or hand either the client or the customer over to another agent (probably in his own firm). When an agent hands his client over to another agent, the second agent becomes the sub agent.

Agency isn’t even a requirement when buying or selling your home. You can find a home yourself and call the agent who listed the home and ask for a showing. In Maryland, before entering the home, this agent that you contacted will need you to sign a “Consent for Dual Agency” form, and you will be agreeing that you understand that the agent works for the seller. If you call an agent who does not work for the company with which the property is listed, the agent is a Presumed Buyer’s Agent. The presumed relationship is not a contractual agreement, however, and the buyer is allowed, by law, to go through with the process without an agent. The agent will need you to sign an “Understanding Whom Real Estate Agents Represent” form that confirms that you have been given the list of various types of agents and what each means. Again, this form in no way contractual binds you to anything. The only form that binds you to an agent is a Written Agent Agreement. Once signed, you are contractually obligated to that agent. If you decide to complete the process without signing a buyer’s agreement with an agent, the seller’s agent can assist you in filling out the paper work, but he cannot give any guidance or advice about offers or counteroffers. The same is true about if you choose to list your home without an agent. In this case, the buyer’s agent would be able to help you fill out the paperwork, but could not give advice or guidance on offers or counteroffers.

Research has shown that people who use an agent on either side of the real estate transaction tend to save money. Sure, your agent will be getting a commission, but you would have likely paid more on the buyer’s side or accepted less on the seller’s side for which a commission would have more than made. Besides, not only are you getting your agent’s expertise in the marketplace, but if you use a Hagan Realty agent, you’re getting state-of-the-art marketing materials and someone who truly loves helping people with what will likely prove to be the biggest investment of their lives. Our agents go through extensive training on contract negotiation and strategies, local economies, and ethics – outside of the continuing education courses required by the Real Estate Commission. We also give you more than just an agent. Hagan agents work closely with the staff Marketing Director, writer, and photographer to give you custom, cutting-edge marketing materials to make your home stand out in today’s competitive economy.

Jed WilliamsJed Williams
Principle Broker and founder of Hagan Realty