If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in Massachusetts, you may come across the term “dual agency.” It’s important to know what it means before consenting to MA real estate dual agency. Here’s what you should know.
Buyer’s and Seller’s Agents
You probably already know that when working with a real estate agent in Massachusetts, you have the option to hire that agent. If you’re selling a home, the agent would be your seller’s agent. If you’re buying, then the agent would be your buyer’s agent. Seller’s and buyer’s agents have a fiduciary responsibility to you. This means they have a legal obligation to provide confidentiality, care, obedience, accounting, loyalty, diligence, and disclosure.
Real Estate Dual Agency
Most agents work with multiple buyers and multiple sellers at any given time. On rare occasions, they may have a listing that one of their own buyers is interested in. In this case, they represent the buyer as a buyer’s agent and the seller as a seller’s agent,… making them a “dual agent.” Dual agency creates a precarious situation because how can one agent working for two different parties truly provide the full range of services to each party? The answer is, they can’t.
In a dual agency situation, the agent must be fair to both sides. Therefore, they cannot provide full loyalty, disclosure, and obedience. Dual agents cannot put the interests of one party over the other, disclose known personal information, etc. In certain respects, they must act neutrally.
Consent to Dual Agency
Because of the limitations presented by MA real estate dual agency relationships, both buyer and seller in a transaction must “expressly” authorize an agent to practice dual agency. Ultimately, there is no benefit to either buyer or seller in this scenario. Thankfully, there is another option.
Brokerages in MA are allowed to practice “designated agency”. One agent can be a designated buyer’s agent and another a designated seller’s agent. This allows both the buyer and seller to be represented by separate “designated agents” within the company and receive the full range of services. To learn more about dual agency, designated agency, and what arrangement best protects your interests, ask your real estate agent or attorney for further details. If you do not yet have any attorney, please give Martino Law Group a call. We would be delighted to assist you with all legal aspects of your home sale or home purchase.