When we form an agency relationship with a client we owe certain fiduciary duties to that client: Loyalty, Obedience, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Reasonable care and diligence, and Accounting. And since 1994 we owe these duties to our buyer clients as well as our seller clients. In MI we now have Seller’s agents (aka the listing agent), Buyer’s agents, Disclosed dual agents, Designated agents, and Non-agents (transaction broker or facilitator).
The first two are pretty self explanatory. Buyer’s agents have a fiduciary duty to their buyers; seller’s agents have that same duty to their sellers. Designated agency is a little newer. When we first started practicing buyer representation, the problem of dual agency reared its ugly head. Clients belong to the broker (company), not the individual agents. So if I had a listing and someone in the office had a buyer client for that listing, we were both forced into dual agency – even though I probably never met his buyer and he probably never met my seller. Because the broker represented both clients. Then along came designated agency. Now if another agent in my office brings an offer from a buyer client, I still represent my seller and he still represents his buyer. The broker becomes a dual agent while the actual agents involved in the nuts and bolts of the transaction can still fully represent their respective clients.
Designated agency is the best thing since sliced bread. It has greatly reduced the instances of dual agency, but has not totally eliminated it. Disclosed dual agency is still common when the individual agent or team represents both the buyer and seller. Is this necessarily a bad thing? It is true that our fiduciary duties to both the buyer and seller are limited. In the hands of an inexperienced agent or an agent who isn’t detail oriented, there could be problems. But in the hands of a highly skilled, experienced, ethical agent, dual agency has worked just fine for the past fourteen years in MI. Because of the different skill levels of real estate licensees, just having someone “represent” the consumer does not automatically mean the best result for the consumer. A skilled agent who understands what is important to each side can usually craft a contract that fulfills the most important needs of each party. Sometimes opposing agents are too quick to fight rather than find a win-win position.
You will find that level of skill, experience and ethics with the Jackie Hawley Team. So please consider us for all your real estate needs. And when you have the time, please check out our web sites. I am constantly adding and tweaking them. I think you will find them to be the most comprehensive real estate sites in the area. I have also started adding non-real estate areas for those who are between home purchases. So please, take a look and let us know what you think.