Dual agency is also known in the real estate jargon as double ending. This is when the listing agent is representing both the seller and they buyer at the same time during a transaction.
First, one must understand dual agency before you decide if it is appropriate for you as a future real estate buyer or seller. In New Brunswick, when a seller hires a sales representative, it is actually the entire firm and all its representatives that are hired to work on behalf and for the best interest of the seller. Therefore, whenever a potential buyer contacts the agent on the front lawn sign or any other agents from the same company, everyone has a duty and a legal obligation to protect and promote the seller’s best interest, consequently everyone is responsible for the seller to obtain the highest possible price under the best circumstances. In a nut shell, the seller is the client of the firm and someone inquiring about the property from the street is simply a customer.
We enter into a dual agency situation whenever a potential buyer is also represented by anyone of the agents at the same firm. I this case, the agents are responsible to look after the best interest of both parties by respecting certain rules and limitations.
The key word or the most important principle when entering in a dual agency representation is the capacity for the agent or agents involved to remain impartial through the process of the transaction. By impartial, we understand initially that there is no conflict of interest and that agents can remain neutral and not favor one party over the other. A trustworthy relationship is crucial before entering in such a scenario, you have to feel comfortable that the sales representatives will remain unbiased and impartial prior to entering the negotiations.
If the agents know certain facts, such as what the seller is willing to accept in terms of sale price or other terms as well as what the buyer is willing to pay for the property, these facts cannot be disclosed or shared to the other opposite party. The agents are also obligated not to disclosed personal information or the motivation of either the buyer or the seller; any known information that would be detrimental to one party over the other. I often use the example where I pretend the purchaser just won several millions at the lottery. The agent in a dual agency situation must not share this information unless authorised in writing. Simply put, the agent or agents involved in a dual agency situation should basically communicate only the known facts that are written in the agreement of purchase and sale.
Dual agency doesn’t imply that known defects about the property are kept secret, the seller remains under the obligation to disclose any known latent defects about the property; such disclosure is usually done in writhing on an official document once the offer is accepted.
If you find yourself in a dual agency scenario or in the possibility of dual representation, make sure you feel comfortable with the sales representatives involved and their capacity to act in an impartial way.
Happy buying and selling!
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