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Understanding Real Estate Buyer Agency

Washington DC Real Estate Buyers Agency
There are many advantages to working with an M Squared consultant to find your new home in Washington, DC. From never missing a new listing, to getting the best price.  M Squared consultants live, work and play in Washington, DC.  We are life-long residents and look forward to sharing this wonderful city with you.

By definition, your agent is someone who will represent your interests. And a handful of laws governing agency relationships have been designed to help you feel safe with your decision. Here are a few basics you should know:

When a real estate agent/broker represents a buyer or seller, the agent/broker owes the buyer or seller certain fiduciary duties, which means they're charged with requirements of confidentiality, obedience, fidelity, loyalty, accounting, and reasonable skill and care.
When a real estate agent/broker does not represent a buyer or seller, no fiduciary duties exist. However, even when there are no official duties, real estate professionals still have an obligation of honesty to all parties with whom they interact.

At M Squared, all consultants must:

  • By loyal and act in your best interests;
  • Obey your lawful instructions;
  • Protect your confidences;
  • Exercise reasonable skill and diligence when answering your questions;
  • Be accountable for handling funds and paperwork;
  • Present all offers in a timely fashion; and,
  • Execute other duties as outlined in your buyer agency agreement.

In Washington, DC the following buyer agency relationships can be established:

Presumed Buyer's Agent (no written agreement): When a person goes to a real estate agent for assistance in finding a home to buy or rent, the agent is presumed to be representing the buyer and can show the buyer properties that are not listed by the agent's real estate company. A presumed buyer's agent may not make or prepare an offer or negotiate a sale for the buyer. The buyer does not have an obligation to pay anything to the presumed agent.

If for any reason the buyer does not want the agent to represent him or her as a presumed agent, either initially or at any time, the buyer can decline or terminate a presumed agency relationship simply by saying so.

Buyer's Agent (by written agreement): A buyer or tenant may enter into a written contract with a real estate agent, which provides that the agent will represent the buyer or tenant in locating a property to buy or rent. The agent is then known as the buyer's agent. That agent assists the buyer in evaluating properties and preparing offers, and negotiates in the best interests of the buyer or tenant. The agent's fee is paid according to the written agreement between the agent and the buyer or tenant. If you as a buyer or tenant wish to have an agent represent you exclusively, you must enter into a written buyer agency agreement.

Dual Agents: The possibility of dual agency arises when the buyer's agent and the seller's agent both work for the same real estate company, and the buyer is interested in property listed by that company. The real estate company, or broker, is called the "dual agent." Dual agents do not act exclusively in the interests of either the seller or buyer, or landlord or tenant, and therefore cannot give undivided loyalty to either party. There may be a conflict of interest because the interests of the seller and buyer may be different or adverse.

If both seller and buyer, or landlord and tenant, agree to dual agency by signing a Consent For Dual Agency form, then the real estate company (the "dual agent") will assign one agent to represent the seller or landlord (the seller's "intra-company agent") and another agent to represent the buyer or tenant (the buyer's "intra-company agent"). Intra-company agents may provide the same services to their clients as exclusive seller's or buyer's agents, including advising their clients as to price and negotiation strategy, provided the clients have both consented to be represented by dual agency.

If either party does not agree to dual agency, the real estate company may withdraw the agency agreement for that particular property with either the buyer or seller, or both. If the seller's agreement is terminated, the seller must then either represent him or herself or arrange to be represented by an agent from another real estate company. If the buyer's agreement is terminated, the buyer or tenant may choose to enter into a written buyer agency agreement with an agent from a different company. Alternatively, the buyer or tenant may choose not to be represented by an agent of his or her own but simply to receive assistance from the seller's agent, from another agent in that company, or from a cooperating agent from another company.