In real estate, there are differentpossible forms of agency relationship:
1. Seller's Agent
When a real estate company is a “seller’s agent,” it must do what is best for the seller of a property. A written contract, called a listing agreement, establishes seller agency. It also explains services the company will provide, establishes a fee arrangement for the REALTOR’s services and specifies what obligations a seller may have.
A seller’s agent must tell the seller anything known about a buyer. For instance, if a seller’s agent knows a buyer is willing to offer more for a property, that information must be shared with the seller. Confidences a seller shares with a seller’s agent must be kept confidential from potential buyers and others. Although confidential information about the seller cannot be discussed, a buyer working with a seller's agent can expect fair and honest service from the seller’s agent and disclosure of pertinent information about the property.
2. Buyer's Agent
A real estate company acting as a “buyer’s agent” must do what is best for the buyer. A written contract, called a buyer agency agreement, establishes buyer agency. It also explains services the company will provide, establishes a fee arrangement for the REALTOR’s services and specifies what obligations a buyer may have.
Typically, buyers will be obliged to work exclusively with that company for a period of time. Confidences a buyer shares with the buyer’s agent must be kept confidential.
Although confidential information about the buyer cannot be disclosed, a seller working with a buyer’s agent can expect to be treated fairly and honestly.
3. Dual Agency
Occasionally a real estate company will be the agent of both the buyer and the seller. The buyer and seller must consent to this arrangement in their listing and buyer agency agreements. Under this “dual agency” arrangement, the company must do what is best for both the buyer and the seller. Since the company’s loyalty is divided between the buyer and the seller who have conflicting interests, it is absolutely essential that a dual agency relationship be established in a written agency agreement. This agreement specifically describes the rights and duties of everyone involved and any limitations to those rights and duties.