There are a handful of laws today governing agency relationships designed to help you feel comfortable with your home-buying or home-selling transaction.  Please note that these laws differ from state to state and that agency policies may differ among real estate companies. 

Who does the agent represent?   A real estate agent (licensee) must represent at least one party, either the buyer or the seller.  When you choose to work with a licensee, your business relationship is legally with the real estate brokerage company (the Company) and not the licensee.

How do I become a Represented Client?  You must enter into a written agency agreement requesting the Company and its licensees to act as agent on your behalf.  A common misconception is that an agency relationship is automatically established at your initial meeting with an agent.  The agent should disclose their representation to you before showing you any homes by giving you an agency disclosure brochure.  For you to be a represented client, a buyer’s agency contract if you are buying or a listing agreement if you are selling must be signed.    

What is a Customer?  When you have no representation, you are a Customer.  The only services   provided to customers are to present offers in a timely manner, account for documents and monies, explain the scope of services to be performed, give fair, honest and accurate information, and disclose adverse material facts.  If you have not signed agency representation paperwork, you are probably a Customer and not a Client.

What is Buyer or Seller Agency?  When you choose to be a represented client, your agent and  their respective Company must act on behalf of and promote your best interests (loyalty), obey lawful instructions (obedience), disclose material and relevant facts (disclosure), maintain confidential information, which includes anything that could have an adverse effect on your transaction  (confidentiality), act with reasonable care and skill in answering questions (reasonable care and skill),  and be accountable for handling funds and paperwork (accountability), plus execute all other duties as outlined in your buyer’s agency contract or listing agreement.

What is Dual and Disclosed Dual Agency?  A dual agency is formed when the same agent and Company who represent the seller also represent the buyer.  A disclosed dual agency is formed when both parties agree to the dual agency and the Company works in a limited capacity for both parties.  A disclosed dual agent must maintain a neutral position between buyer and seller, may not support the position of one client over the other, or disclose personal or confidential information to the other party without written consent. 

What is Designated Agency?   The buyer and seller can each be represented by different agents from the same Company.  This occurs when the buyer client buys a home listed with that agent’s Company.   The Company’s broker-in-charge remains a disclosed dual agent for both parties and designates the individual licensees to act solely on behalf of each client.

When considering a home purchase or sale, it is important to understand the differences outlined above.  If you have any questions, please contact me by phone or email.  I can provide you with a detailed explanation of these relationships and show how they’ll affect your purchase or sale. 

Please click here to request a free brochure about agency relationships published by the South Carolina Real Estate Commission.