When you are ready to buy a new home or sell a property you currently own, you need to understand real estate agency. Agency relationships (the relationship between real estate agent and client) are created any time you choose to work with a licensed real estate agent. Agents have certain obligations to their clients that they are expected to honor when they are helping you buy or sell real estate. This is an overview of the different types of agencies. 

1. Single Agency for Buyers

When a real estate agent is working exclusively with a buyer during a real estate transaction, this is the agency relationship you and your agent will have. Agents will keep your information confidential and not share that with the agent representing the seller or the seller themselves if the property isn’t represented by another agent. During this type of agency, you may share anything you choose with your agent without concern that the information will be provided to the seller. 

2. Single Agency for Sellers

Similar to single agency for buyers, single agency for sellers is created when a seller works exclusively with a real estate agent. You should be comfortable sharing financial information with your real estate agent without concern that they will share that with a prospective buyer or another agent. The agent will represent you exclusively in the sale of your home and is free to give you advice throughout the entire process including during negotiations and through closing. Remember, this doesn’t apply to material facts such as active issues that need to be repaired or the fact that there is a landfill located behind your property. Material facts must always be disclosed by the seller’s agent no matter what type of agency the transaction falls under. 

3. Dual Agency

Suppose you are visiting a friend and drive by a home for sale. You really like the neighborhood, and the house looks great from the outside so you decide you want to take a look at it. Next, you reach for your cell phone and call the agent on the sign. The listing agent currently represents the seller but you ask them to show you the home. They already have an agreement with the seller and will keep any information they know about the home or the homeowners confidential. If you want the listing agent to help you too, you are now looking at dual agency since they will be representing both parties to the transaction. During dual agency, the agent involved will keep all information they are aware of regarding the buyer or the seller confidential unless they are given permission to share something by the involved party. In the case of dual agency, the agent will not offer advice to buyer or seller but will instead act as a liason between the two parties and will educate the parties appropriately so they can make informed decisions regarding their real estate needs. Dual agency situations are not only created when the same agent represents both buyer and seller but also when two agents working for the same firm represent both sides of a transaction.  

4. Designated Agency

We have talked about both single agents and dual agents. So, what does that leave? Dual agency offers another option for buyers and sellers to consider when they wind up in that situation. A broker may designate individual agents to represent the buyer and seller. This works more like single agency with the involved agents being able to offer advice to the buyer and seller of the property. The agents would still be expected to protect confidential information regarding their client but would also be allowed to offer them advice about the facts regarding the purchase or sale of a home. 

Only you can decide what kind of agency you are most comfortable with. The most critical part to feeling confident with any real estate agent is trust. Take time to talk to an agent about the services they provide and select the agent that will offer you peace of mind that your priorities will become their priorities.