Consumers can get confused when it comes to dual agency in real estate. The Maryland Real Estate Commission describes dual agency below:
The possibility of dual agency arises when the buyer's agent and the seller's agent both work for the same real estate company, and the buyer is interested in property listed by that company. The real estate broker or the broker's designee, is called the "dual agent." Dual agents do not act exclusively in the interests of either the seller or buyer, and therefore cannot give undivided loyalty to either party. There may be a conflict of interest because the interests of the seller and buyer may be different or adverse.
If both seller and buyer agree to dual agency by signing a Consent For Dual Agency form, the "dual agent" (the broker or the broker's designee) shall assign one agent to represent the seller (the seller's "intra-company agent") and another agent to represent the buyer (the buyer's "intra-company agent"). Intra-company agents are required to provide the same services to their clients that agents provide in transactions not involving dual agency, including advising their clients as to price and negotiation strategies.
If either party does not agree to dual agency, the real estate company must withdraw the agency agreement for that particular property with either the buyer or seller, or both. If the seller's agreement is terminated, the seller must then either represent him or herself or arrange to be represented by an agent from another real estate broker/company. If the buyer's agreement is terminated, the buyer may choose to enter into a written buyer agency agreement with a different broker/company. Alternatively, the buyer may choose not to be represented by an agent of his or her own but simply to receive assistance from the seller's agent, from another agent in that company, or from a subagent from another company.
Also, a real estate company needs at least three licensees to participate in dual agency. The law requires that there be a broker (or branch manager as designated by the broker) to act as the dual agent in the transaction. The broker or branch manager designated by the broker appoints two licensees in the company to act as Intra-Company agents. The Intra-Company agent representing the seller would represent the seller solely and exclusively while the Intra-Company agent representing the buyer would represent the buyer solely and exclusively.
A broker who is also the listing agent may not act as the intra-company agent for the seller.
Lauren Bunting is a Broker with Keller Williams Realty of Delmarva in Ocean City, Maryland.