Real Estate Agency Relationships and Information
An Exclusive Right to Sell Listing is a contractual agreement under which the listing broker acts as the agent or as the legally recognized non-agency representative (transaction broker) of the seller(s), and the seller(s) agrees to pay a commission to the listing broker, regardless of whether the property is sold through the efforts of the listing broker, the seller(s), or anyone else; and a contractual agreement under which the listing broker acts as the agent or as the legally recognized non-agency representative of the seller(s), and the seller(s) agrees to pay a commission to the listing broker regardless of whether the property is sold through the efforts of the listing broker, the seller(s), or anyone else, except that the seller(s) may name one or more individuals or entities as exemptions in the listing agreement and if the property is sold to any exempted individual or entity, the seller(s) is not obligated to pay a commission to the listing broker.
Real Estate Agency Relationships Buyers and Sellers
- Conventionally, the broker provides a conventional full-service, commission-based brokerage relationship under a signed listing agreement with a seller or a "buyer representation" agreement with a buyer, thus creating under common law in most states an agency relationship with fiduciary obligations. The seller or buyer is then a client of the brokerage firm referred to as the broker. Some states also have statutes that define and control the nature of the representation.
- Agency relationships in real estate transactions involve the legal representation by a real estate broker/agent on behalf of a real estate company of the principal, whether that person(s) is a buyer or a seller. The broker and licensed real estate sales staff then become the agent of the principal.
- A Non-agency relationship where no written agreement or fiduciary relationship exists, a real estate broker and sales staff work with a principal who is known as the broker's customer. When a buyer who has not entered into a Buyer Agency agreement with the broker buys a property, that broker functions as the sub-agent of the seller's broker. When a seller chooses to work with a transaction broker, there is no agency relationship created.
The most recent development in the practice of real estate is "designated agency" which was created to permit individual licensees within the same firm, designated by the principal broker, to act as agents for individual buyers and sellers within the same transaction. In theory, therefore, two agents within the same firm act in strict fiduciary roles for their respective clients. Some states have adopted this practice into their state laws and others have decided this function is inherently problematic, just as was a dual agency. The practice was invented and promoted by larger firms to make it possible in theory to handle the entire transaction without creating a conflict of interest within the firm.
Real Estate Brokers and Agents Typically Fall Into Four Categories
- Seller's agents, commonly called "listing brokers" or "listing agents", are contracted by owners to assist with marketing property for sale or lease.
- Buyer's agents are brokers or salespersons who assist buyers by helping them purchase property.
- Dual agents help both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. To protect their license to practice, a real estate broker owes both parties fair and honest dealing and must request that both parties (seller and buyer) sign a dual agency agreement. Special laws/rules often apply to dual agents, especially in negotiating price. In dual agency situations, a conflict of interest is more likely to occur, typically resulting in the loss of advocacy for both parties. Individual state laws vary and interpret dual agency rather differently, with some no longer allowing it. In some states, Dual Agency can be practiced in situations where the same brokerage (but not agent) represent both the buyer and the seller. If one agent from the brokerage has a home listed and another agent from that brokerage has a buyer-brokerage agreement with a buyer who wishes to buy the listed property, dual agency occurs by allowing each agent to be designated as an "intra-company" agent. Only the broker himself is the Dual Agent.
- Transaction brokers provide the buyer and seller with a limited form of representation but without any fiduciary obligations. Having no more than a facilitator relationship, transaction brokers assist buyers, sellers, or both during the transaction without representing the interests of either party who may then be regarded as customers. The assistance provided are the legal documents for an agreement between the buyer and seller on how a particular transfer of property will happen.